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Xiamen and Wellington celebrate 25 years of friendship

20 November 2012

Xiamen and Wellington celebrate 25 years of friendship

Wellingtonians will have the opportunity to visit a free photographic exhibition showcasing Xiamen, one of China’s most prosperous and beautiful cities.

Xiamen and Wellington are celebrating 25 years of their sister city relationship with a special exhibition called Xiamen: City of Charm, and a visit to Wellington by Xiamen Deputy Mayor Kang Tao and city officials. The exhibition will run from Wednesday 21–Tuesday 27 November at the Central Library in Victoria Street.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says that she will be delighted to welcome the Xiamen delegation. “Xiamen and Wellington are both outward looking coastal cities with strong international connections and are attractive places for people to live and do business in,” she says.

“Our long-standing sister city relationship has brought benefits to both cities through opportunities to develop business relationships, and learn from each other through artistic, school and medical exchanges.”

The Mayor visited Xiamen last year, heading a 31-member delegation on a mission to further develop business and cultural connections in China. The New Zealand China Strategy recognises the role local government plays in opening doors for commerce.

Former Wellington Mayor James Belich signed the sister city agreement with Xiamen Mayor Zou Erjun in 1987. Xiamen was one of four Special Economic Zones opened to foreign investment and trade by China in the early 1980s.

The city’s economy has expanded rapidly since that time and its GDP was estimated to be worth US $40 billion in 2011. Today Xiamen has a population of 3.5 million. It is located on the southeast coast of China and is made up of two islands - Xiamen and Gulangyu – and an area on the mainland.

Xiamen’s main industries include fishing, shipbuilding, food processing, textiles, telecommunications and financial services. It is also home to two large oil painting villages where more than 8000 artists work. Xiamen University is well regarded.

Students from Xiamen schools visit Wellington schools and Xiamen doctors study in Wellington as part of the sister city relationship. The Wellington Xiamen Association helps to organise the exchanges, along with other activities. Wellington CentrePort also signed a memorandum with the Port of Xiamen in 2006, an arrangement which has brought economic benefits to both cities. Earlier this year a Xiamen song and dance troupe visited Wellington to perform at Chinese New Year celebrations in February.

Victoria University and Xiamen University have developed strong links through the sister city relationship. In 2009, the New Zealand Research Centre was established at Xiamen University as a national research centre on New Zealand with a focus on social science issues. The Confucius Institute was opened at Victoria University in 2010 and promotes artistic, cultural and intellectual exchange between China and New Zealand. Last year Professor Diane Brand, Dean of Victoria University's Faculty of Architecture and Design, was invited to lecture on waterfront design at Xiamen University. The two universities are looking at establishing an exchange programme next year for architecture students and are investigating running a joint design programme.

During their time here, the Xiamen delegation will be visiting Victoria University, the Confucius Institute and the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.

2012 is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and China.

ENDS

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