Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Saturday called sister-city links an important channel of China's exchanges and cooperation with other countries, and he urged closer contacts among Chinese cities and their foreign counterparts.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the China International Friendship Cities Conference, which drew some 500 participants from local governments of China and dozens of foreign countries, Xi said sister-city exchanges were a crucial part of country-to-country ties.
"These exchanges helped to cement China's cooperation with countries around the world in economics, technology, education, culture, sports and public health, and promoted better understanding among peoples," he said.
Since 1973 when Tianjin, China, and Kobe, Japan, became the first sister cities, 1,497 pairs of sister cities have formed between China and other countries.
The rapid growth of sister-city exchanges had both benefited from and enhanced China's reform and opening-up policy, Xi said.
China would firmly stick to the path of reform and opening-up for its development, which would definitely step up friendly exchanges and win-win cooperation among Chinese cities and their foreign counterparts, he added.
Xi suggested that sister cities learn from each other, share governance experience and boost substantial cooperation in economics, public service, social stability and the environment.
Isao Vzaki, vice mayor of Kobe, said his city is ready to cement substantial cooperation with Chinese local governments in trade, culture, environmental protection and city construction.
(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2008)