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Irvine’s Chinese Community Expect Their Voices Heard Tonight

Irvine Council member Steven Choi depicts Speaker Pelosi as Stalin (credit The December 2009
Irvine Council member Steven Choi depicts Speaker Pelosi as Stalin (credit The December 2009

While much is made of Irvine’s Korean community and the voting block they represent, Chinese Americans in Irvine have greater numbers and a portion of them will present the City Council with a 500 signature petition demanding friendship city status be granted for a city in China which was swept aside in the hoopla over naming a Vietnamese city a friendship city.

Today’s LA Times suggests a “Cold War” mentality exists among the council majority. We pointed out the McCarthy-like language City and County Republicans are throwing around last week.

From the LA Times story:

Members of its vast Chinese American community are fighting a city decision to bow to the demands of Vietnamese Americans, who arrived by the hundreds this month to demand that Irvine abandon its plans to formalize a relationship with a town in coastal Vietnam.

After a six-hour meeting, the council relented and on a 3-2 vote not only killed the proposed pact, but suspended Irvine’s entire Friendship City program.

And with it went Baoji, a booming city in central China that was also in line to become a “friendship city.”

Now Chinese Americans in Irvine are demanding a face-to-face meeting with elected officials and want the proposed accord with Baoji revived. Nearly 500 have signed a petition.

“The outdated Cold War mentality you and your two colleagues hold has arrested the dynamism Irvine has been enjoying,” Irvine resident Wenshen Jia wrote in a scathing letter to the mayor, Steven Choi.

For Irvine, which is roughly 40% Asian and pitches itself as an international hub, it’s been a month of strained foreign relations.

In suspending the Friendship program, which was also poised to cement a relationship with Karachi, Pakistan, city leaders said it will be revived only after it adopts policies that would exclude reaching out to countries that don’t respect human right or democratic values.

Mayor Choi, a South Korean immigrant, said he doesn’t plan to revisit the idea of forming a relationship with Nha Trang, Baoji or Karachi.

“We treated everyone fairly,” he said. “The matter is closed.”


Wenshen Jia tells TheLiberalOC that a petition with 500 signatures will be submitted to the council at tonight’s meeting and organizers are still gathering signatures to bring the total to 1,000 signatures.  Mayor Choi’s comments regarding Pakistan and general disrespect displayed to the Chinese-American community has fueled serious interest in this November’s elections.  Voter registration drives are underway with a goal of adding more Democrats to the voting roles.  Once a Republican stronghold in terms of voter registration, the DPOC reports that the difference between registered Republicans and registered Democrats in Irvine is less than 1,000 voters.

In playing their communist Vietnamese card, the Irvine Republican majority has instead lit a fire under what was previously a pretty passive block of voters with Irvine’s Chinese-American community.


  1. Ltpar Ltpar April 22, 2014

    Dan, one question. Does Wenshen Jia, actually live in Irvine or is he a carpetbagger hustling the Chinese Community for Larry Agran?

  2. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski April 23, 2014

    He lives in Irvine. How many of the Vietnamese who hustled for Shea two weeks ago lived here?

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