Feature: U.S. midwestern cities seek cooperation with China

Updated: November 28, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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CHICAGO, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Mayor Pro Tem of Kansas City in the U.S. state of Missouri Ryana Parks-Shaw just came back from China after attending a sister city conference and visiting the Chinese cities of Xi'an, Yan'an and Shanghai.

"We have had two sister city agreements with China," Parks-Shaw told Xinhua on the sidelines of the 7th China General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) - Chicago Annual Gala held recently in Chicago. Kansas City tied the sister city knot with Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, in 1989, and became a sister city with Yan'an, another city in Shaanxi, in 2017.

"I'm interested in making sure that the Kansas City and China relationship grows and fosters, because we have two sister cities in China, and so wanting to support the growth in relationship development," she said.

This is the second time for Jim Hovland, mayor of Edina in U.S. state Minnesota, and Rod Robinson, mayor of Elkhart in U.S. state Indiana, to attend the CGCC-Chicago Annual Gala.

"I think this is one more chance to build global friendships and build sort of that subnational base of people that would be involved in making the world a little bit safer, a little bit more prosperous," Hovland told Xinhua. "Because of the nature of our two countries, that (China-U.S. relationship) is particularly important in this overall world that we live in."

"I'm going home this time with the notion that we're not sending enough students to China," Hovland said.

Edina has a Chinese school that functions primarily in weekends. Hovland is considering having a full-time school teaching Chinese as an immersion.

Elkhart, a city 110 miles east of Chicago in the U.S. midwestern state of Indiana, is known for its recreational vehicle manufacturing, as well as being the "musical instrument capital" of the United States.

Elkhart means the quality of place and quality of life. "What we're doing there is that we are creating a relationship around music and arts that we want to evolve as a part of our community," Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson said while promoting his city to Xinhua.

"I believe that we have a very fertile area to attract talents and skills," Roberson said.

"I'm very optimistic about China-U.S. relations, especially after my visit to China, definitely excited about the potential opportunities for people-to-people exchanges so we can continue to strengthen the friendship with China," Parks-Shaw said.

"It's a very big world out there, and there's plenty of room for two prosperous countries to compete with each other on a friendly basis," Hovland quoted the saying of Chinese leader. "I don't like the animosity building at the national level that's occurring. I think it's not healthy for anybody. I like the opportunities that present themselves."

"These two great countries have obligations not only to themselves and each other, but to the rest of the world," Hovland stressed.

Roberson is also optimistic about the China-U.S. relationship. "That's the relationship that's gonna drive our governmental officials, whether they're state or federal, to create the kind of policies that are demanded by the people that live in these local communities."

"We all want to be able to have a relationship with another," he stressed.

The U.S. Heartland China Association (USHCA) organized a bipartisan delegation of six U.S. mayors representing communities along the Mississippi River Basin to visit their counterparts in China in November this year.

The six mayors from the U.S. Heartland visited five Chinese cities in 10 days to put bilateral cooperative frameworks into action at the local level, and kick off two-way exchanges as part of the USHCA's Yangtze-Mississippi Municipality Energy Transition Exchange project.

Steve Grand, USHCA's official communications advisor, made a film about the trip of the six mayors. "As a filmmaker through the lens, I saw smiles and laughter and people nodding yes instead of saying no. It was a really compelling trip," he said, sharing his experience of the trip at the CGCC-Chicago Annual Gala.

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success," Grand quoted Henry Ford. "Our trip was a beginning to the end of keeping together for progress and working together for success."

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia