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San Leandro Mayor Halts Plan To Fly Chinese Flag At City Hall

SAN LEANDRO (KPIX 5) -- The mayor of San Leandro has suspended a city council decision to fly the flag of the People's Republic of China over City Hall, as a way to attract investors.

On Monday, city council members voted 4-3 to fly the Chinese flag on the country's national holiday, which takes place on October 1st. The council approved the measure despite protests by Tibetan activists decrying the proposal because of human rights abuses in China.

On Thursday, Mayor Stephen Cassidy announced he would overrule the council's vote, taking advantage of a rarely used city ordinance which gives the mayor 72 hours to toss out a city council vote.

"We won't actually be flying the flag of China on October 1st," Cassidy told KPIX 5.

Cassidy said in the aftermath of the vote, his office received roughly 75 telephone calls and emails per day, mostly opposing the decision to fly the flag.

Cassidy said the suspension would give the city a "time out" to create a policy about whether to allow the flags of other governments to fly at city hall.

Other Bay Area cities, including San Francisco and Alameda, have previously flown the Chinese flag at city hall.

Kunjo Tashi, President of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, said he hoped San Leandro's about-face would set a precedent against that practice.

"This really is a big victory, not only for the Tibetans, but for oppressed people all over the world," said Tashi. "This is a victory for democracy."

Councilman Benny Lee, who introduced the proposal to fly the flag, could not be reached for comment.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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