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US state, Sichuan celebrate longtime friendship

By LINDA DENG in Tacoma, Washington | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-11-24 09:17

A popular Chinese ballad echoed through the music and drama classroom of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington, on Monday night.

The performance by the school choir of On the Fields of Hope was part of an online meeting between the state and Southwest China's Sichuan province, with the theme: "40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Friendship Relations".

Zhang Jianmin, China's consul general in San Francisco, attended the meeting and noted that the recent 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China proposed a Chinese path to modernization featuring common prosperity for all.

China's new journey will create opportunities for cooperation between Washington state and China, he said. A landmark meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden also set the tone for returning the relationship to one of healthy and stable growth, for the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole, he said.

"I believe that the local exchanges and cooperation between Sichuan province and Washington will surely lay a more solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations," Zhang said.

Officials from Sichuan and Washington state participated in the meeting.

Li Yunze, executive vice-governor of Sichuan, said that Sichuan and Washington state will potentially cooperate on energy and the climate. He also said businesses from the state of Washington will always be welcome in Sichuan.

Li also said that he looked forward to sending a trade delegation to the state next year.

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said his predecessors had visited China 28 times in the past 40 years and that he hoped to visit the country in the near future. In addition, he said, the state of Washington enjoys 10 sister and friendship city relationships with China.

"Moving forward, we need to strengthen our cooperation in the areas of culture, commerce, education, environmental sustainability, aerospace and tourism," Hobbs said. "I look forward to welcoming all of you from Sichuan province and China to visit my office at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington."

The state established a friendship relationship with Sichuan in 1982.

In 2015, during a visit to Lincoln High School, President Xi called on the young people of the two countries to strengthen exchanges, enhance friendship and continue contributing to China-US relations.

Washington State Panda Foundation Co-Chair Ron Chow said, "During 40 years, friendly exchange between Washington state and Sichuan province …would not be possible without the passion and hard work from citizens and educators to foster our youth and student exchange."

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and Dick Muri, mayor of the town of Steilacoom, sent a letter to Xi at the beginning of this year, wishing him and the people of China a happy new year and offering congratulations on the success of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

The president replied to both mayors and thanked them for the letter.

Steilacoom and Dujiangyan, Sichuan, signed a memorandum of understanding in March to establish friendly and cooperative relations. Tacoma and Mianyang, Sichuan, have been friendship cities since 2006.

Dujiangyan, where the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base is located, showed a short film about Baiyun, a 31-year-old female giant panda who lived at the San Diego Zoo from September 1996 to May 2019, and Bao Bao, a female giant panda born at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, in August 2013 and returned to China in February 2017.

The state presented a gift to Sichuan at the end of the event — a picture drawn by Lincoln High School students Lily Nop and Devynee Ye.

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