The mayor of San Leandro, Calif., on Thursday, just hours after WND reported on a city council vote to fly the flag of communist China over city hall, decided to suspend that decision.
In a statement delivered to WND by city officials late Thursday, Mayor Stephen Cassidy commented on the controversial decision to fly the flag of the People’s Republic of China at the San Leandro City Hall on Oct. 1.
“San Leandro does not fly the flags of other nations at our city hall. We need to call a ‘time out’ and allow the community to weigh in on whether or not we should raise the flags of other governments,” he said.
“We should not rush to host the flag of a specific government at city hall and set a precedent before we listen to the community and carefully review our options,” he said.
“I recognize that my decision will disappoint many persons. I greatly value and am tremendously thankful to our Chinese-American community for its extensive and significant contributions to the welfare of the people and economy of San Leandro,” he continued. “Our Chinese-American community has helped make San Leandro one of the most diverse cities in California and the U.S. Those in our community wishing to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China are welcome to use one of our parks, as do other groups that celebrate key events of their nations of origin.”
City officials explained in a statement to WND that the city does not have guidelines about flying other nations’ flags.
The controversy developed following a Sept. 16, vote, 4-to-3, with Cassidy and council members Pauline Cutter and Michael Gregory dissenting, to approve flying the Chinese flag over city hall on Oct. 1.
That’s National Day in China, marking the founding of the People’s Republic.
Officials said under the city charter, the mayor has the authority to suspend implementation of a council vote within three days. The matter then is placed as a motion for reconsideration at the council’s next meeting, but that wouldn’t have happened until Oct. 7.
The overturned decision had been made to honor “the formation of the sovereign state in 1949 by communist leader Mao Zedong,” the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Councilman Benny Lee explained he wanted to provide a sign of support for the city’s Chinese residents and signal that the city is open for Chinese business and investments.
Lee was joined in the vote by council members Ursula Reed, Diana Souza and Jim Prola.
“Raising the flag gives us the opportunity to show the openness to the people of China, the business people of China, to show that we welcome that investment and we welcome the prosperity,” Lee said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
A number of Tibetan organizations opposed the vote, according to the San Jose paper, including Tashi Kungo of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, who charged the flag is “stained with the blood of Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese.”
Arlene Lum of the Asian Community Cultural Association, however, supported the council’s decision. She insisted it reflects a welcome to the Chinese population in San Leandro and an open door to Chinese money.
The San Leandro school board showed its opposition to the council’s decision by voting to move its meeting away from city hall on the day the Chinese flag will fly there, according to KGO-TV in San Francisco.
The station reported flags from China already fly in San Francisco but said the decision to raise it over city hall in San Leandro for one day has riled human rights activists.
Blogger Greg Autry – a senior economist with the American Jobs Alliance and co-author of “Death by China?” – charged the city council has been “corrupted by the lure of Chinese money.”
He noted Oct. 1 “celebrates the conquest of China by Mao’s brutal communist forces in 1949 and the establishment of a regime that has killed more people than any other on Earth.”
“Apparently ‘partnering’ with these sort of criminals is what San Leandro wants to be known for,” Autry said.
He had called for boycott of San Leandro and a demonstration there Oct. 1.
“Bring your own food and fill up your gas tank before you enter town. Never do any business in or with a San Leandro firm,” he said.
The Chinese flag, Autry argued, symbolizes the “inferior position” of the Chinese people, represented by the small stars, to the Communist Party and the “overall dominance of communism,” symbolized by the red background.
He said the decision insults Korean veterans who fought Chinese forces and Tibetans “who are watching their country be systematically dismantled and their people abused under Beijing’s colonial ambitions.”
Vietnamese Americans, he added, “had their country overrun and stolen by communist forces.
He also called it an insult to the members of the Falun Gong sect have been “executed so their organs and bodies could be sold for profit,” Christians whose churches have been demolished and the millions of unemployed Americans whose jobs have been sucked up by the Chinese behemoth.