San Francisco politicians, eager to showcase their democratic credentials in their liberty-loving city, traditionally have not shied from taking stances on human rights, checking in on everything from apartheid in South Africa to Burma’s military junta.
But on Wednesday, as tens of thousands of peaceful democracy demonstrators who had already been tear-gassed marched in Hong Kong, Mayor Ed Lee was on his City Hall balcony hoisting the flag of the target of those protests — the autocratic government of China.
Next to him stood Nansheng Yuan, China’s consul general in San Francisco. The city traditionally flies the flag of countries with consulates in San Francisco on their national holiday.
The occasion was China’s National Day, the 65th anniversary of the founding of the communist state, and the flag ceremony occurred a few hours before about 150 pro-democracy demonstrators protested in front of the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office in San Francisco.
One of those protesters, Charles Cheung, an IT engineer and San Francisco resident, said Lee’s official flag-raising was “inappropriate.”