A plan to fly China's national flag outside San Leandro City Hall has caused an uproar among human rights activists. Kimberly Tere reports.
A plan to fly China's national flag outside San Leandro City Hall has caused an uproar among human rights activists.
The San Leandro City Council plans to fly the flag on Oct. 1, China's National Day.
Councilmember Benny Lee made the controversial proposal Monday night. People who attended the council meeting said Lee told the council the flag would help attract Chinese investors.
On Tuesday, Lee backed away from the comment.
"Why the Chinese flag? People of Chinese ancestry. Acceptance." Lee said. "To draw in business? You know I think that's a channel. Because you've said that in the past, that it's to draw in business. Well, I think I said a whole bunch of things."
Some residents and human rights organizations are angry and said the flag represents the pain the Chinese government has put Tibetans and their own people through.
"We were kind of dismayed at the fact that this was being done under the auspices of better economic ties with China, without actually thinking about the egregious human rights violations committed by the Chinese government," said Kalaya'an Mendoza, a member of Students for a Free Tibet.
Those who oppose the city's decision said they will be back when the flag is officially raised.
"The first message is that they are endorsing a brutal regime," said Kunjo Tashi, Tibetan Association of Northern California. "It is akin to honoring Bin Laden on American soil."
When asked whether the city plans to fly other nations' flags in the future, Lee said, "We're going to cross that path, definitely."
9/19 UPDATE: The plan to raise the Chinese flag outside San Leandro City Hall has put on hold due to growing opposition, Councilman Lee tells NBC Bay Area’s Kim Tere.