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Sister cities gather at CIIE
By:Fu Yifei, Wang Jiaye  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2019-11-11 16:39

On November 5, the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) opened in Shanghai. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said the Expo deals with goods and services, while exchanging culture and ideas. On the day of the opening ceremony, the “2019 CIIE Sister Cities Cooperation Forum” became a cultural and conceptual exchange event between China and foreign countries.

With the theme of “Sharing CIIE opportunities for Greater Opening-up and Cooperation”, this forum was jointly sponsored by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipal People's Government, Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. This is one of the supporting activities for the 2019 CIIE, and also the largest forum held by the city’s foreign affairs departments.

The forum invited high-level delegations from 22 cities of 18 countries in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and other places, as well as Chinese and foreign guests to attend, and talk freely on the two major topics --“CIIE and new opportunities for the world” and “Striving for open and win-win development through sister cities partnership". In the ceremony, opening speeched were given by Sha Hailin, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, John Sheehan, President of Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland, and Moustafa Alham Khaled, Luxor Governor, Egypt.

Sha Hailin, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress and President of Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, delivers a speech.

Since 1973, Shanghai has established sister-city relations at both the municipal and district levels with 90 cities in 59 countries, and has built friendly relationships with 40 cities in 26 countries. At the forum, representatives from various cities said that because of the sister-city ties with Shanghai, exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in economy and trade, culture, education and other fields were booming. These countries expect to achieve more promising goals during the CIIE and the sister cities cooperation forum. Representatives from these countries shared a series of views about their relationship with Shanghai, China and the CIIE.

What opportunities and challenges will sister-city relations and the Expo bring to the development of both sides and the world at large? Ernesto Sanchez Proal, Minister of Economic Development of the State of Jalisco, Mexico, said that the Expo is very important for Mexico as well as Jalisco, especially for the development of small economies to which the Expo is like a catalyst.“China's welcoming of more foreign-funded enterprises proves once again China's commitment and determination to global cooperation. At the same time, more than 28 Chinese companies have expressed their interest in setting up branches in Jalisco this year.”

The year of 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of friendly relations between Shanghai and Osaka. IOKA Takuya, the Associate Director of the Global Business Support Group, Osaka Prefectural Government, Japan, also said that China was Japan's biggest trade partner, and the Expo would help increase Japan's exports to China, while bringing the best Japanese products to the Chinese market.

Cho Sang Bum, Director-General of Culture and Sports External Cooperation Bureau of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, the Republic of Korea, said that eight Jeju enterprises, including cosmetics and food companies, had participated in the CIIE and carried out various business activities. In recent years, Shanghai and Jeju Island have carried out various cooperation projects in culture, art, youth exchanges and so on.“We hope that the Expo will be a great success,” Mr Cho said.

Mark Chandler, Director of San Francisco Mayor's Office of Global Engagement, the United States, pointed out that next January marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of a sister-city relationship between the two cities. Many cooperation projects between the two sides have been established in the past four decades, to which the sister-city relationship has made great contributions. The two sister cities, crossing the barriers of cultures and regions, unite both citizens and the governments of both sides, in order to create a real bond which can link the culture, commerce, education and other fields of Shanghai and San Francisco.

John Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland, said,“As early as 17 years ago, we began to develop friendly relations with China, and three years later, we became the first city in Ireland to build sister-city tie with cities in China." He also said education and tourism were the pillars of the friendship between the two sides. In 2017, Mayor Ying Yong became the first mayor of Shanghai to visit Cork. During the visit, the two cities signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Sister Cities, including the first cooperation in venture and innovation.

How to promote bilateral economic cooperation through the Expo? Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens, Greece, said the country could become the door for China to Europe. He introduced that Greek’s port planning and development commission recently approved COSCOShipping’s general plan for Piraeus Port, with a total amount of 611.8 million euros. Greece is also one of the 15 Guests of Honor of the 2019 CIIE, with 68 Greek enterprises led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greek Prime Minister, participating.

At the forum, Gary Millar, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, the UK, directly showed us his Wechat,“You’re welcome to add me as your Wechat friend. I have posted a lot of interesting information about our cooperation, including a Chinese version, which has just been updated five minutes ago.” His promotion, including a Chinese version, won the praise of the guests present. He said that Liverpool had come to the Expo for the second time, and he hoped that through this platform, it could tell the stories of both sides in fields like higher education, science and technology innovation, and shipping.“We have excellent basketball, football and other sports disciplines, and they are likely to help China win the World Cup,” said his confident “advertisement”, drawing smiles from the guests at the forum.

How to enhance sister-cities cooperation and development in Shanghai through the CIIE?“Our diplomatic relations with China were just established in August last year,” said Ernesto Muyshondt, Mayor of San Salvador, El Salvador.“So far, we have signed two sister-city agreements, with Beijing and Hangzhou respectively. Since March, we have also started discussions with Shanghai on the establishment of sister cities.” He said that the cooperation between sister cities would enable San Salvador and El Salvador to learn more about other cities and learn from their successful experiences and best practices. The Expo gives them more opportunities for cooperation.

Armand Roland Pierre Beouinde, Mayor of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, said that since their arrival in Shanghai, they had accepted a warm, friendly and high-quality reception.“Our vision is to make the cooperation between cities a powerful means to promote the relations between peoples, both in China and Burkina Faso. Ouagadougou wants to actively participate in the Chinese market,” he said.

As a bridgehead in the “Belt and Road” Initiative, how can Shanghai promote open and win-win development effectively with the help of its sister cities? Moustafa Alham Khaled, Luxor Governor, Egypt, said,“Although we are different in race, nationality and language, it is the sister-city ties that bring us together.” He introduced the cooperation between China and Egypt in many fields, especially in the framework of the “Belt and Road” Initiative. Among them, the cooperation between Shanghai and Luxor are long-standing examples between the two countries. He hoped that the two sides could take more specific measures in the future and tap more promising potential in cooperation.

It is worth mentioning that Yokohama, Japan, is the first foreign city to have established friendly-city ties with Shanghai. Akaoka Ken, Director General of International Affairs Bureau of Yokohama, Japan, introduced the cooperation between the two cities under the sister-city ties, such as pensions, women's development, carbon dioxide emission reduction and so on. This year, five enterprises involved in the medical device and pharmaceutical fields in Yokohama participated in the CIIE. In addition, he introduced Yokohama's projects related to the “Belt and Road” Initiative.

Linchenko Nikolay, Vice-governor of St. Petersburg, Russia, said that Shanghai was the first city in China to establish friendly relations with his city. The two sides have so far successfully carried out many cooperation projects for the benefit of the residents in the two cities, such as the launch of biomedical products. The establishment of a pharmaceutical joint venture between the two sides has become the first case of technology transfer from St. Petersburg to China.

Juan Quirós, President of Sao Paulo Negosios (Investment and Export Promotion Agency of Sao Paulo City Hall), Brasil, said that the sister-city relationship between Sao Paulo and Shanghai had a history of 30 years, and he looked forward to further deepening this friendly relationship, especially in the economic and investment fields. Manufacturing, information technology, health care, finance and creative industries are all important development areas of the city, he added.

Vice Chairman Sha Hailin said in his conclusion speech that he hoped that Shanghai and its sister cities would make full use of the platform of the Expo and the ties between friendly cities. This will allow them to connect their own development advantages with Shanghai's key development plans and projects, effectively enlarging the Expo’s effect and the platform effect of the sister cities forum. In the final analysis, urban communication is a people-to-people communication. Only by deeply cultivating friendship, contacts, and consolidating public opinion and social foundations, can sister cities go far and steadily.

Various city delegations from Ireland, Greece, Egypt, Britain, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Brazil, the United States, El Salvador, Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and other countries, as well as guests from the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipal People's Government, Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Shanghai Federation of Social Science Association, Shanghai Institute of International Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and other institutions attended the forum.