Monday, July 03, 2006

City Of
Irvine, California
Signs Agreement
With China
To Ostracize
Democratic Taiwan

Strange goings-on in the city of Irvine, Ca, where city officials have approved an agreement with China to snub their former "Sister City", Taoyuan, Taiwan:

The controversy surrounding Irvine’s new sister city relationship with the Chinese city of Shanghai and the bizarre snub of neighboring Taiwan began with numerous “irregularities,” including breaches of protocol, “odd” outside influences and possible “deliberate deception,” according to a June 21 memo obtained by the Weekly.

Written by Irvine Sister Cities Foundation president James E. Dunning, the three-page document outlines how Henry King, the Shanghai native and husband of Councilman Larry Agran’s executive aide, allegedly usurped the foundation’s authority, embarrassed Irvine, and—improbable as it sounds—set the stage for an international confrontation over Taiwan.

Dunning charges that King, a foundation member, secretly communicated with Communist officials in China before and during the trip, refusing repeated requests to inform fellow delegates; unilaterally crafted a roster for the trip, inviting one person with no ties to the Sister Cities program; and shifted the agenda in Shanghai to include business unrelated to sister city matters.

Perhaps most egregious, King allegedly helped dictate scheduling, at one point putting himself and Irvine city staffer Valerie Larenne in a room alone with Tina Tian, a representative of Shanghai’s Xuhui district. As King stood by without complaint, Tian demanded that Larenne, Irvine’s Community Partnerships Administrator, sign a bizarre agreement.

The contract, which requires nothing from the Chinese, demands that Irvine officials follow Beijing’s lead, and treat the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan, as a breakaway province of the People’s Republic of China. Larenne signed—and then allegedly said nothing of the agreement to her bosses for more than a week.The deal has been blasted in the local media, on blogs and in the streets.

Mayor Beth Krom said she doesn’t understand her critics. She told Orange County Register editorial writer Steven Greenhut she’s “mystified” that anyone could be alarmed about an agreement that “isn’t as controversial as it’s made out to be.”

For starters, Krom might consider that Irvine already has a successful, six-year-old Sister Cities relationship with the Taiwanese city of Taoyuan, and that the United States is formally committed to defend Taiwan if attacked by the People’s Republic China.

The Krom Concordat pledges that “from now on” Irvine’s elected officials won’t visit Taiwan, display Taiwan’s flag, play its national anthem or attend any Taiwanese government functions.