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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pasadena won't condemn Rose Parade float

L.A. Times: Oc. 30, 2007 - The poll is still on, please cast your vote here!

Rose Parade
Ric Francis / Associated Press
Human rights supporters protest China's inclusion in the 119th Annual Rose Parade.
Addressing opposition over the Beijing Olympics theme, the City Council approves a resolution that doesn't single out China.
By David Pierson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
11:33 AM PDT, October 30, 2007
Pasadena officials have rejected calls that the city condemn China's human rights record or take any other action regarding a controversial Rose Parade float celebrating the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The decision came despite impassioned protests from alleged victims of the communist regime and signals a victory for the Tournament of Roses and prominent Chinese Americans and businesses sponsoring the planned float.

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"Voters look to us for local issues like planning, police protection and potholes," said Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard shortly after the City Council meeting ended late Monday evening. "I believe the proper channel for dealing with human rights is through the federal government and not the state and local government."

John Li, president of the Cal Tech Falun Gong Club, an outlawed spiritual group in China that has led the efforts to condemn the float, accused the City Council of missing an opportunity to take a moral stand against China's human rights record and set an example for other cities to follow.

"I'm so sorry to see the result," Li said. "What makes them hide from the facts?"

The city's Human Relations Commission had recommended in September that the City Council create an ad hoc committee to bring opposing sides on the matter together and issue a resolution addressing concern over the violation of human rights in China.

But early today, the seven-member council agreed on more generic terms that would not definitively single out China. They approved motions to endorse the United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and denounce human rights violations wherever they occur.

The statements would be delivered to federal officials, all of Pasadena's five sister cities -- including one in China -- and the consul generals for the countries those sister cities belong to. The transmittal would include an explanation that testimony against China's human rights record heard before the council prompted the action.

The fight over the float also underscores the divide in Southern California's Chinese American community. The float is sanctioned by the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee but is financed by wealthy Chinese Americans as well as Pasadena-based label maker Avery Dennison Corp., which has major business ties with China.

Many Chinese Americans are proud of the Rose Parade float and the Olympic Games it celebrates. Business, cultural and family ties are deeply intertwined between China and the U.S., and for several years China has been the top trading partner with the Los Angeles area, accounting last year for $126 billion dollars in trade (counting commerce to and from local airports and seaports).

But Southern California is also home to thousands of Chinese who fled their homeland to escape repression, and many of them have problems with the float. Final details of the float are still being worked up. An early drawing shows a group of colorful cartoon characters, the Games' official mascots. Sue Zhang, a fundraiser for Beijing's Tsinghua University, said Avery Dennison -- which has thousands of employees in China -- paid half of the float's $400,000 cost.

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