The first Chengdu International Sister City Week was celebrated in the capital city of Sichuan province on May 26. Delegates from 26 sister cities in 19 countries joined the event to mark the city's long history of partnerships with foreign countries.
In 1981, Chengdu established friendly relations with Montpellier in France, and Ljubljana in Slovenia. So far, Chengdu has established "sister city" relations with 44 foreign cities.
Senior officials from Chengdu's sister cities have made frequent visits, and the sister cities are active in economic and trade exchanges, and joint culture, tourism, science and technology, and education efforts.
At the 2010 China International Sister City Conference, Chengdu won the highest award, the China International Sister City Exchange and Cooperation Prize, and also the People's Friendship Dedication Prize. Chengdu also won the right to host the 2012 China International Sister City Conference.
Li Chuncheng, a Provincial Party Standing Committee member and Chengdu Municipal Party Committee secretary, said Chengdu is accelerating efforts to integrate with the world economy and become a modern garden city that will attract businesses and tourism. The international sister city program serves as a window and bridge for the city to exchange ideas and projects with other parts of the world, realize common development goals, and enhance friendly ties among the people, Li said.
Following the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Chengdu's international sister cities were quick to offer help, including efforts to rebuild people's homes. Li said this year's first Chengdu International Sister City Week offered an opportunity to review the exchange process and expand communications with Chengdu's business, tourism and culture counterparts in foreign countries.
Feng Zuoku, vice-president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), praised Chengdu's efforts during opening ceremonies for this year's celebration. He said Chengdu has proven a model for other Chinese cities that want "sister city" relationships and is helping raise China's stature as a strong supporter of such exchanges.
At the opening ceremony, Lin Songtian, director of the foreign affairs management department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministry will continue to actively support Chengdu in external exchange projects. Chen Bo, deputy director of Europe department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, read congratulation letters from Chinese embassies in France and Slovenia. Jacques Touchon, deputy mayor of Montpellier, praised the 30-year friendship between the French city and Chengdu.
After the opening ceremony, Chengdu hosted a Night of Sister Cities welcoming party to greet Chinese and foreign guests.