Alameda established a close connection with the Chinese cities of Wuxi and Jiangyin in 2007/8 respectively. They share a Memorandum of Understanding to promote a range of mutually beneficial interests, including commerce, however no engagement with the People’s Republic (sic) of China is possible without conforming to ever present political realities, including the totalitarian nature of such forces.
The previous Mayor, Beverley J Johnson issued on 09/18/2007 the above Proclamation which declares an intent to honor China’s ‘National Day’ by raising the Chinese flag. As we write these words it’s kinda hard to believe that the representatives of Alameda, committed as they no doubt are to the enjoyment of justice, democratic freedom and human rights could so easily have endorsed such a collaboration, particularly given the harrowing reality of China’s record on human rights and its ongoing repression of Tibetans and other occupied peoples such as Uyghurs and Mongolians.However here were are and in a few days time the good citizens of Alameda face the prospect of waking to see the flag of China above City Hall!
Of course it does not have to be this way and considerable action is being taken to lobby the present Mayor Marie Gilmore to suspend the event, due to the good-hearted support of our many friends and subscribers the City Council can be under no illusion, there is widespread concern and opposition to this, and not just from within the city itself but across the world. We imagine protests will gain momentum with appeals made directly to Council members, no doubt rallies are being considered, while across social networking platforms such as Twitter the issue is being given full exposure.
What though of the local community? What opportunity have they been afforded to examine and debate this issue? Are they comfortable about their City’s association with a regime that so brutally denies the most basic of freedoms? More importantly have the good folks of Almeda been granted full and informed participation? For example what say did the community have on the Proclamation to fly China’s flag? Looking through the recorded Minutes of the Council’s meetings its difficult to see any significant contribution, it’s as if the Council Chamber was populated only by city officials during discussion of the proposals on forging links with China.
Had there been greater public involvement the options for participation are limited. Time sure is precious when addressing the City Council, so for any who maybe thinking of now making clear their opposition to the Alameda authorities be aware you will have just three minutes to make your point. So arguments need to be precise, considered and engineered to produce maximum impact. With that in mind we offer the following suggestions.
Firstly why were the people of Alameda not openly consulted in advance on proposals to fly China’s flag?
Is democratic process genuinely served by choosing Mayoral proclamation over public engagement on what is such a highly controversial matter?
That decision is an endorsement of and compliance with a political event authorized and demanded each October 1st, in celebration of the founding of Communist China. Take a careful look at the wording as appearing in the Alameda City Council minutes of 08/21/07:
3-A. Proclamation encouraging participation in Peoples Republic of China Flag raising ceremony in support of Wuxi, China Sister City activities. (Development Services)
Were local folks given a chance to engage in informed discussion on that? Was the local community allowed to consider the ethical concerns of this proposal?
In the scramble to become a sister City with Wuxi and Jiangyin did no one at Alameda City Council spare even a minute examining the implications, as regards how this would be understandably seen as an endorsement of China’s regime, with its dark record on human rights and oppression?
We wonder if the following Clause agreed by Alameda City Council on 8/21/2007 (in a Memorandum Of Understanding MOU) explains what seems to be an absence of local participation in democratically discussing the subject:
4. As for other matters not mentioned in this MOU, the two governments will decide upon them through friendly consultation in the spirit of mutual understanding. (Emphasis Added)
Where’s the transparency and accountability surely demanded by democratic procedure? There seems to be a whole bunch of questions that have been ignored or not even considered, while perhaps the biggest disappointment is an apparent lack of communication with the local community on this and a worrying absence of public participation. In light of these serious issues and the questions raised we again request Mayor Marie Gilmore to urgently review and suspend plans to raise China’s flag on October 1. If any citizen of Alameda or elsewhere wishes to express their concerns please email firstname.lastname@example.org