Jinan, Sacramento focus on youth as sister cities

Updated: 2014-03-28 07:38

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily USA)

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Unlike many other cities attending the US-China Sister Cities Conference being held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, Jinan, the capital of East China's Shandong province, was one of the few cities that set up a booth there to promote its rich culture and history.

Jinan and its sister city Sacramento, California, received the youth exchange award Thursday night at a ceremony. The award was given by a committee set up by the Sister Cities International and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, two sponsors of the conference.

Jinan Mayor Yang Luyu was in the spotlight Thursday, receiving awards, making speeches at a lunch session and busy talking to reporters.

"Receiving the youth exchange award shows that Jinan and its US sister city have made good progress in this regard. It also reflects the recognition for Jinan in its opening up to the outside world and enhancing international exchanges," Yang said.

"Of course, we have paid special attention to the youth exchange. So the award reflects the unique feature of our work," he said.

Jinan and Sacramento have focused on its youth program since the founding of their sister-city relationship in 1984. Their Youth Ambassador Program aims to promote exchange and understanding between Chinese and American students. It is also meant to help participating students from the two cities expand their world view and forge friendship and understanding through personal interaction and learning each other's culture and history.

As a result of the sister-city relationship, more than 30 schools in Jinan have set up friendship ties with some dozen schools in Sacramento, exchanging visits and sharing experiences in education and social work among students.

More than 3,000 students in Jinan, a city of 6.8 million people, submitted their poems to compete in the "Inspirational Messages of Peace Contest", an annual poet contest held in Sacramento, with two winning top awards.

Jinan sent its young artists to Sacramento to attend arts festivals and training camps for young musicians.

In addition, the two cities have also forged a strong economic and trade tie, with a total of 93 investment and trade agreements, worth $700 million, being signed.

"First of all, I have lent my full support and the government has showed its support to create necessary conditions. But more importantly it is for the non-governmental organizations to conduct a much wider range of exchanges," Yang said.

The exchange with Sacramento has covered not just youth and education but also arts, culture and sports, according to Yang.

Jinan, with its 2,600 years of history as a city, is widely regarded as one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization.

The mayor believes that youth are the folks who will inherit the China-US friendship, so increasing mutual understanding and trust will inject new vitality to the long-term and stable development of the bilateral relationship. It will also play a positive in the future relationship.

Yang described the Youth Ambassador Program and the Poem Contest as showcase of the exchange between Jinan and Sacramento.

He said the new type of major country relationship agreed upon by leaders of the two countries has pointed to a clear direction. "But the exchange between the two peoples will be the foundation," he said.

Yang agreed with Mary Jean Eisenhower, president of People to People International and granddaughter of President Eisenhower, when she said in her keynote speech on Thursday morning that there were a lot of information out there, some accurate and some not. The way to deal with the information is to increase exchange and communications between the peoples.

"So you will be able to keep the accurate information and get rid of the inaccurate part," Yang said.