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Sister ties feted for bringing people together in China, US

By LIU YINMENG in Los Angeles | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-04-29 07:56

The peoples of China and the United States have forged long-lasting friendships and secured mutual benefits from arrangements that connect communities in both nations, a conference was told on Wednesday.

The theme of the online meeting, with more than 300 people participating, was "building resilient partnerships". It was co-organized by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Sister Cities International.

Officials from nine Chinese provinces and nine US states, including the vice-mayor of Beijing, vice-governors from Anhui, Fujian and Henan provinces, as well as secretaries of state and lieutenant governors from Maryland, Oregon and Kansas.

Qin Gang, China's ambassador to the US, said in opening remarks that the driving force for a stable China-US relationship are the many people who are dedicated to promoting, defending and contributing to the friendly exchanges and practical cooperation between the two countries.

"The resilience of our sister cities is the resilience of China-US relations. I believe that it is worthwhile and correct that we pay all the hard efforts today, because people will know this is the right thing to do, and amity between the people holds the key to state-to-state relations," Qin said.

Terry Branstad, a former Iowa governor who served as the US ambassador to China from 2017 to 2020, said Iowa's sister-state relations with Hebei province began in 1983. It's "an example of a longstanding friendship", he said.

Branstad recalled the warm reception from the Chinese people during his multiple trips to the country. President Xi Jinping himself visited Iowa in 1985, Branstad said.

In 2011, when Branstad traveled to China, he met with then Chinese vice-president Xi, who "spent 45 minutes telling me how much he loved Iowa; he called us old friends", Branstad said.

"I'm proud to say that sister state has stayed very active, as have many of the sister cities in Iowa with China. We have had a lot of exchanges and built a lot of friendships," he added.

At the webinar, more than 20 people shared their insights, which were separated into three segments: sports diplomacy, climate change and innovative economy.

Many speakers discussed the ongoing cooperation the two nations have enjoyed in areas such as climate change, education and cultural and tourism activities arising from the relationships connecting sister states and provinces and sister cities.

They shared stories of how people in the two nations helped each other during the pandemic by donating medical supplies and how officials stay in touch via video conferences.

Fujian province and Oregon, which established friendly relations in 1984, provide one example.

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said in a prerecorded video that no country can solve transnational issues like climate change or the pandemic alone. Collaboration is crucial to sound relationships between people at the subnational level, she said.

Fujian's Vice-Governor Guo Ningning said the province has established sister relations with more than 120 cities around the world, including with 17 US cities. She suggested deepening collaboration in climate change, economic exchange and people-to-people relationships.

Anhui's Vice-Governor Zhou Xian looked back at 42 years of mutually beneficial cooperation between the province and Maryland. The two sides have maintained exchanges in a wide range of areas, including trade, education and culture, he said.

His remark was echoed by Maryland's Secretary of State John Wobensmith, who noted that he is "very encouraged by the many efforts that we have worked on together over the past several years".

Sister Cities International's President and CEO Leroy Allala said there are 234 pairs of sister cities, and 50 pairs of sister provinces and states between China and the US. The first pair of China-US sister-city relationships was established in 1979 between St. Louis, Missouri, and Nanjing.


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