Irvine Mayor Steven Choi's Remarks Dismissing Chinese and Pakistani Friend Cities Resurface

Irvine Mayor Steven Choi makes air quotes around "terrorist" during an April council meeting.
Irvine Mayor Steven Choi makes air quotes around "terrorist" during an April council meeting.

Just in time for the Nov. 4 election, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi is again being highlighted for his remarks in April dismissing the cities of Baoji, China, and Karachi, Pakistan, as potential "Friendship Cities."

Twisted Sister City: Irvine shanghais Taiwan

To recap: Irvine residents originally from Baoji and Karachi made pitches to consider them as Irvine Friendship Cities, which used to be referred to as Sister Cities. Such designations allow for cross-cultural exchanges. But Choi publicly pooh-poohed the idea of a Friendship City that is not democratic or has been known as a hotbed for terrorist activity.

Of course, while the U.S. does have strained relations with China and Pakistan, each remains a U.S. ally, according to the State Department. Which brings us to Irvine City Councilman Jeff Lalloway's comments at the same April council meeting where Choi spoke. Lalloway wondered why Irvine would be involved in international relations at all. He, Choi and Councilwoman Christina Shea form the current council majority.

The mini-controversy had died down until this video was posted Sunday by "Irvine Public Interest:"

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This is the first and only video posted on YouTube by Irvine Public Interest, according to the video-sharing website.

Election-eve finger pointing at Choi over a perceived cultural snub is not new. In September 2008, he criticized his opponent Todd Gallinger's legal work with the Council for American Islamic Relations, calling CAIR "a dangerous Islamic organization." Weeks later, Gallinger claimed he received a death threat stating, "I want to cut off your head just like all the other Muslims deserve." Choi denied the threat was his fault.

Meanwhile, the current council minority of Beth Krom and Larry Agran in 2006 were dragged into a controversy surrounding Irvine's then-new sister city relationship with the Chinese city of Shanghai and bizarre snub of neighboring Taiwan. (Re-read R. Scott Moxley's "Twisted Sister City.")

Krom's current term ends in 2016, but Agran is seeking reelection in November.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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