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China fails to stop New Jersey Township Mayor from raising Tibetan flag to celebrate Losar

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb11’24) – Losar, the Tibetan New Year, which fell on Feb 10 this time, was celebrated in the US State Department while Mayor Michael Melham of Belleville Township in the state of New Jersey flew the Tibetan national flag on Feb 9, rejecting a written objection from China’s vice consul in New York.

Extending warmest wishes to all those celebrating Losar, the Tibetan New Year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Feb 9, “On this first day of the Year of the Wood Dragon, we celebrate the strength and perseverance of the Tibetan community around the globe. Here in the United States, tens of thousands of Tibetan-Americans are integral to the preservation of Tibetans’ distinct cultural, linguistic, and religious heritage.”

He wished Tibetans celebrating all across the world peace and prosperity in the new year.

Meanwhile, in Belleville, Mayor Melham went on to raise the Tibetan flag, rejecting a second last-second letter, from China’s vice consul in New York, imploring the mayor to cancel the noon event at town hall, claiming the flag was a symbol of “an illegal separatist political group,” reported tapinto.net, cbsnews.com and other news outlets Feb 10.

The reports said the mayor responded in writing to vice consul Huang Ping, saying: “Here in Belleville, New Jersey, we pride ourselves on fostering an environment of inclusivity and acceptance, regardless of nationality or territorial affiliation. Our community’s rich history is deeply rooted in these principles, shaping the very essence of who we are.”

The mayor has added: “It’s essential to clarify that our intentions are not aimed at challenging the sovereignty of any nation. Instead, our gesture symbolizes solidarity with the Tibetan people and their aspirations for freedom and self-determination.”

“We stand with the Tibetan people in their struggle for autonomy and respect for their cultural heritage,” the mayor has concluded, urging Ping to delve into Belleville’s “fascinating Chinese history, which spans over a century and a half.”

The mayor has also noted that Belleville was live-streaming a Chinese New Year event on Feb 10, serving “as a testament to our deep appreciation for Chinese culture and traditions. It is a reflection of our longstanding relationship with the Chinese community.”

He has also said, “As a Township, we remain committed to fostering understanding, dialogue, and mutual respect among all peoples, both locally and globally.”

The mayor said his decision was not political and that he sent a respectful letter back to China’s vice consul saying the flag went up because his diverse community respects all voices, according to the cbsnews.com report.

This year, the Tibetan New Year fell on the same day as the Chinese Lunar New Year.

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