From Sister Cities International: This year’s U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference was an incredible display of citizen and subnational diplomacy at its best as Chicago played host to nearly 200 delegates from China and the U.S. at the 2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference. Business and municipal leaders, along with citizen diplomats, attended the conference. This monumental convening created a powerful reminder about the important role the sister cities global network plays in bringing together diverse cultures around one common goal: shared prosperity and a desire to create a better understanding of one another. The Conference also celebrated the 30th anniversaries of Chicago’s sister city relationships with Shanghai and Shenyang and also kicked off a few new U.S.-China partnerships in the process. Here is a run-down of some of our favorite moments:
1. Welcome Reception
The Conference began with a beautiful welcome reception hosted by Chicago Sister Cities International at one of the city’s premier attractions, the Field Museum. There, guests were treated to delicious delicacies and a special preview of the newly opened Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibit with textiles, rubbings, bronzes, ceramics and sculptures all in a new, 21 century innovative and interactive manner.
A key moment was when Leroy Allala, Executive Director of Chicago Sister Cities International gave remarks along with Jeff Malehorn, President and CEO of World Business Chicago; Steve Koch, Deputy Mayor of Chicago; Mary Kane, President and CEO of Sister Cities International; Wenjian Fang, Executive Vice President USA of Bank of China; and Xie Yuan, Vice President of Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
Bank of China was a sponsor of the welcome reception.
2. Opening Welcome
The Conference kicked off Friday morning with opening remarks from Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago. Mayor Emanuel discussed how important the Shanghai and Shenyang sister city partnerships are to the City of Chicago and Chicagoans, saying that Chicago sees their sister city relationships with China as fundamental economic, commercial and cultural gateways.
Following Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mary D. Kane; Xie Yuan; Huang Kai, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of Shenyang People’s Congress; and Wenjian Fang made remarks to welcome all to the Conference.
3. Conference Breakout Sessions and Luncheon Keynote
This year’s breakout sessions focused on growing U.S.-China knowledge and partnerships. Experts and practitioners from the U.S. and China took part as panelists in eight sessions on topics such as educational exchange, building business in China, reviving sister city partnerships, tourism, economic development and more.
The luncheon keynote featured Jake Cefolia, Vice President of Atlantic and Pacific Sales for United Airlines. United was a sponsor of the conference.
4. Closing Dinner: Entertainment
One of the true highlights of the conference was the entertainment by the Chinese Fine Arts Society which included four beautiful performances including traditional Chinese music played on a pipa (four-stringed Chinese musical instrument) and a guzheng (a Chinese plucked zither) by Jie Hao and Menghua Guan. The dinner included 11-year-old violinist Chizuru Tanaka’s performance of “Feng” by Lei Liang; dancer Angela Tam’s performance of a traditional ribbon dance called Feitian; and Ryan Shi’s Chinese yo-yo or “diabolo” performance.
5. Closing Dinner: Sister City Signings
In a suitable way to celebrate 30 years of Chicago-China partnerships, the conference played host to the creation of two new ones. To end the closing dinner, attendees witnessed sister city signings between Tustin, California and Heyuan, Guangdong Province as well as Yorba Linda, California and Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province. Charles Puckett, Mayor of Tustin; Zhu Weiwei, Vice Mayor of Heyuan; Craig Young, Past Mayor and Council Member of Yorba Linda; and Yang Changya, Mayor of Tongchuan were present to sign their new agreements. We’re excited to see how these new sister city pairs evolve in the future and help to continue the rich tradition of creating a better world and shared prosperity through building bridges between our societies.
To view more photos from the Conference, click here.
The 2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference in the News
Photo Credit: Patrick Pyszka // City of Chicago