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Key notes for enhancement of ties sounded at SF consulate

By CHANG JUN in San Francisco | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-02 11:14

Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Zhang Jianmin receives a proclamation on Chinese-American Friendship and Heritage Day from San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Wednesday at a reception at the consulate to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US in 1979. CHANG JUN / CHINA DAILY

Goodwill, potential and more people-to-people collaborations were the buzzwords at a reception at the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco.

Moreover, guests at the reception Wednesday evening shared their insights about why it is crucial to advance the robust subnational relationship between the Golden State, the city of San Francisco and China.

The event, which commemorated the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America, drew hundreds of representatives from all walks of life in Northern California and beyond.

In his speech to guests, Counsel General Zhang Jianmin acknowledged contributions of people in both countries to help develop the relationship. "(It) could not be possible without efforts from people from all walks of life in both countries," Zhang said, citing a handful of trailblazers who have pushed forward the friendship.

On Jan 28, 1980, one year after the normalization of the bilateral relationship, Shanghai Vice-Mayor Zhao Xingzhi and San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein signed the "Agreement on the Establishment of a Friendship-city Relationship between Shanghai and San Francisco", debuting the sister-city collaboration between the two major cities.

Since then, decades of close exchange between the two in various fields such as trade, culture and sports, science and technology, and other areas continues despite political headwinds and pandemic obstacles.

Zhang, a native of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, shared with guests an anecdote about a cypress tree that President Richard Nixon had brought and given to the Chinese city during Nixon's historic visit in 1972.

Planted on a grassy slope in a Hangzhou garden, the tiny California redwood was dwarfed by several other trees. When Nixon told Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who accompanied him in a stroll around the garden, that it would take centuries for the little sapling to reach its maturity, the 73-year-old Zhou replied, "The next generations can enjoy it."

Forty-five years later, "The tree has grown tall and big," said Zhang. "There is even a song written to capture this episode (of friendship)."

London Breed, mayor of San Francisco, agreed. "I am excited to celebrate this partnership that exists between San Francisco and China for many, many years," she said, adding that her city being the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Week in November 2023 "was extraordinary".

Engage with one another, Mayor Breed stressed. "We establish a better partnership through San Francisco that could help bridge the gap to ensure a better US-China relationship," she said.

The improvement and development of China-US relations have brought practical benefits to the people of both countries and promoted peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, Zhang said.

The bilateral trade volume between the two countries increased from less than $2.5 billion in 1979 to nearly $7 60 billion in 2022, and two-way investment has increased from almost zero to more than $260 billion.

There have been 284 pairs of sister provinces, states and sister cities. China and the United States also have had useful cooperation on many international, regional and global issues.

"However, there is more that needs to be done and can be done," said Zhang, adding that San Francisco and California can deliver on that.

Breed echoed that San Francisco and California can play an important role in bridging gaps and focusing on things that "bring us together — our growth, our business development, our history and culture, and our relationship that exists so many years".

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