Ji­nan and Sacra­mento fo­cus on youth as sis­ter cities since 1984

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

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 sis­ter­city 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 longterm 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.

XING XUDONG / CHINA DAILY

Cyn­thia Brock-Smith (sec­ond from right), sec­re­tary of Wash­ing­ton DC, and Karima Woods (sec­ond from left), in­ter­na­tional busi­ness man­ager in the city govern­ment, re­ceive Sis­ter City Award in the cat­e­gory of Eco­nomic & Trade for the city’s ef­fort in de­vel­op­ing com­pre­hen­sive busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tion with its sis­ter city Bei­jing at the 2014 US-China Sis­ter Cities Con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day. Xie Yuan (left), vice-pres­i­dent of Chi­nese People’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries, and Thomas Lisk, chair­man of Sis­ter Cities In­ter­na­tional, con­ferred the award.

CAI CHUN­Y­ING / CHINA DAILY

Yang Luyu (right), mayor of Ji­nan city in China, pre­sents gifts to Mary Kane, pres­i­dent and CEO of Sis­ter Cities In­ter­na­tional, in front of the city’s ex­hibit booth at the con­fer­ence.

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