Jiangyin City in the People's Republic of China was abruptly halted Tuesday when a group protesting China's annexation of Tibet began a demonstration outside City Hall.An event celebrating five years of municipal sisterhood between Alameda and
Frank Matarrese of the Alameda Sister City Association said China's Consul General canceled a planned appearance about 15 minutes before the Sister City event was scheduled to start at City Hall, citing the demonstration by Bay Area Friends of Tibet.
"When some of the members of the Alameda-Jiangyin Friendship Committee gathered for a picture, the demonstrators gathered too and there was shouting," Matarrese said.
"With that program we could see that the event could not go on in a meaningful way so it was canceled."
Last month the Tibetan National Congress published a letter on its website, addressed to Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore and city council members, objecting to plans to display the Chinese flag during the ceremony.
"The flag represents a government that ran tanks over their own children who were protesting peacefully in Tiananmen Square in 1989," the letter said.
"For others, like Tibetans and Uighurs, it represents a symbol of occupation of their homeland and unremitting oppression as countless innocent citizens are arbitrarily imprisoned, routinely tortured, and even executed without proper representation."
Matarrese said in an email that at several similar past events in Alameda, "Our Mayor and the Chinese Consul General each raise the flag of their country on small standards on both sides of the podium in recognition of Alameda.
"They make speeches about the importance of cultural exchange and there has usually be some sort of entertainment."
Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen said Tuesday that plans for the sister city event never included raising any foreign flag on the official City Hall flagstaff.
Tuesday's protest demonstration in front of City Hall was peaceful and legal, he said.
In San Leandro last month, a plan by the city to display the Chinese flag at City Hall prompted similar protests.
Jiangyin City (Wixu) is one of Alameda's three official sister cities. Others are in Japan and Sweden.
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