Sister-city-state ties feted

Updated: 2014-03-27 13:20

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily USA)

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It was a big family reunion as more than 300 people from Chinese and US sister cities and sister provinces and states got together on Wednesday evening at the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC.

Participants came from all parts of the two nations, such as Qinghai province in Northwest China and Fort Worth, Texas, for the US-China Sister Cities Conference in Washington on March 26-28.

Sarah Lande, from Muscatine, Iowa, told the story behind the Journey of Friendship song that celebrates the bilateral people-to-people ties. Lande was the hostess who received Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited Muscatine in 1985 as a county leader from North China's Hebei province. Xi paid a high-profile return visit there two years ago as China's vice-president.

Then American students from the University of Iowa and Chinese students studying at the University of Maryland sang the beautiful song in English and Chinese.

Lu Kang, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said that China and the United States had little contact 35 years ago, but their relationship has today become one of the most important and dynamic in the world.

"It should be credited to the generations of visionary leaders in both countries, but it should also be credited to the peoples of the two nations," Lu said.

"Their passion, innovation and hard work have constantly elevated the relationship,"

There are some 250 pairs of sister cities and province-state ties between China and the US. "Given the size of the two countries, the potential for developing more sister-city ties is enormous," Lu said.

Danny Russel, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, came directly to the reception after landing at Dulles airport following a trip to The Hague, the Netherlands, where world leaders met for the Nuclear Security Summit.

He quoted American Tip O'Neill saying that all politics are local. "That means that people care about their neighborhood, they care about their friends and they care about their families," he said.

Then he said that Vice-President Joe Biden, a very good politician, had told him that saying is not right.

"The real saying should be all politics are personal. It's about people-to-people connections," Russel quoted Biden as saying.

Russel then raised the example of President Xi's trip to Muscatine, Iowa, in 1985 as a county leader and his first encounter with Americans.

He also cited US first lady Michelle Obama and her mom and two daughters who were on their first trip to China this past week, visiting schools, talking with students and practicing tai chi, as well as President Obama's pick of Senator Max Baucus as the new US ambassador to China.

"All these examples show how important people-to-people and region-to-region connections are in diplomacy and in building the kind of strong relationship between countries that guarantee world peace," Russel said.

Mary Kane, president and CEO of Sister Cities International, a non-profit organization first established in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower, said sister city partnerships between the two countries have thrived in the past 35 years.

"US-Chinese partnerships have become one of the fastest growing entities," said Kane. Sister Cities International and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries are the joint sponsors of the US-China Sister Cities Conference.

Xie Yuan, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said the bilateral relationship between the two countries has made great strides forward in the past 35 years.

"A large group of sister states and provinces and sister cities have carried out mutually beneficial cooperation to open a new chapter in regional exchanges and to enrich the bilateral relationship between the two nations," Xie said.

The ceremony last night also witnessed memorandum of understanding on friendly exchanges signed between Sacramento, California and Ji'nan of Shandong province on their 30th anniversary of sister-city ties; and between Cincinnati, Ohio and Liuzhou of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region; and Wanzhou in Chongqing and Waynesboro, Virginia; Zhending in Hebei province and Muscatine, Iowa as well as Kunming in Yunnan province and Schenectady, New York.

Participants will engage in a group meeting on Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Building to learn how to further strengthen exchanges and growing business opportunities. And 34 pairs of sister states and provinces and sister cities and four individuals will be honored on Thursday evening for their exemplary work in developing sistership ties.

 Sister-city-state ties feted

Starr Hurley, Chair of Sacramento Sister Council in California, and Li Huaxian, secretary of Jinan municipal government in China, sign Memorandum on Friendly Exchanges in Commemoration of 30th anniversary of Sister City Relation during the reception of the 2014 US-China Sister Cities Conference in the Chinese embassy in Washington DC on Wednesday. Dignitaries witnessing the signing are, from left: Mike Honda, US Congressman from California; Xie Yuan, vice president of Chinese people's association of frienship with foreign countries; Mary Kane, president and CEO of Sister Cities International; Lu Kang, minister and deputy cheif of mission of the Chinese embassy; Tom Lisk, chairman of Sister Cities International; Yang Luyu, mayor of Jinan City. Cai Chunying / China Daily

(China Daily USA 03/27/2014 page2)