Ashly McGlone mercurynews.com SAN LEANDRO -- Over the objections of residents and human rights groups, the city will raise the flag of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, a day that honors the formation of the sovereign state in 1949 by communist leader Mao Zedong. The City Council voted 4-3 Monday to approve the request by Councilman Benny Lee, a Chinese-American who said he intended the move as a sign of support for the city's growing Chinese population and a sign the city is open for Chinese business and investment. The approval -- endorsed by Lee and fellow council members Ursula Reed, Diana Souza and Jim Prola -- garnered applause, as well as boos and shouts of displeasure from a packed council chamber. "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. Raising the flag also is a way "to acknowledge and accept the people of Asian ancestry, Chinese ancestry" in San Leandro, he said. Monday's vote became a sort of Tibet versus China showdown, with Tibetans, Tibet sympathizers and others saying the flag represents oppression and signals the city condones the actions of the Chinese government. About a dozen people rallied outside City Hall before the meeting, many draped in the Tibetan flag and carrying signs that read, "China does not practice human rights," "USA is not a property of China," and "China does not deserve this honor." A MoveOn.org petition, launched last week by local resident Margarita Lacabe, urged the council to reject the request. It had more than 235 signatures from people worldwide by Monday night and the number grew to more than 340 Tuesday. Lacabe also blasted the proposal on her local news blog, San Leandro Talk. The flag request rankled the Tibetan National Congress and the nonprofit Tibettruth, prompting both groups to write letters of objection to the council and post them on their websites. Tashi Kungo, president of Tibetan Association of Northern California, told the council the flag is "stained with the blood of Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese" and flying it would be "endorsing this brutal regime." to read more click here: mercurynews.com
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