Celebrating 40 Years of Diplomacy with China and Sister City Tianjin


Philadelphia and Tianjin became Sister Cities on December 6, 1979. Over the last 40 years, Citizen Diplomacy and its members have witnessed the dramatic evolution of this bilateral relationship. We see the results of this friendship in academic collaborations by UArts, Drexel and Temple University. The World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the World Trade Center of Tianjin, China in 2017. The Philadelphia Orchestra tours China regularly, and most recently in May 2019, to foster meaningful exchange through music. The colorful Chinatown Friendship Gate still serves as the most recognized symbol of our relationship with Tianjin. Through Citizen Diplomacy, visitors from China connect with city agencies, nonprofits and businesses about open data, tourism, housing and urban development, and much more.

A New Pipeline for Tianjin Students to Study in Philadelphia

Four Tianjin delegations visited Philadelphia in July, August, October and November to lay the groundwork for a new education initiative that aims to increase the number of students studying in Philadelphia from Tianjin. Big thanks to board members Brian Stevenson, Chris D’Angelo and Wendy Williams for helping us welcome Executive Vice Mayor Duan Chunhua, Director Chen and delegates to Philadelphia. The new initiative aims to bring students and young professionals to Philadelphia to attend short-term camps, high school and university programs. The recently- opened Chinatown Crane Center is supporting the startup of a new business to support students travelling from China to Philadelphia. The first camp is set to land in the summer of 2020 at Temple University’s Center for American Language and Culture with Citizen Diplomat Jackie McCafferty.

October’s First Thursday at Venture Cafe featured two panels tackling our current relationship with China. First, Samuel Chueh of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce moderated a discussion on ‘Building Business Connections in China,’ featuring Edgar Vesga- Arias of Philadelphia International Medicine; Dan Tsao of New Mainstream Media; Jeffrey Yau of PCVB and Holly Meng of Temple University. Then, Jing Yang of the Sino American Pharmaceutical Association of Greater Philadelphia led a discussion on ‘Exploring Life Sciences Collaborations’ featuring Zhenhua Wu of Exegenesis Bio; Mingfu Zhu of Panorama Medicine; Douglas J. Bucklin of Volpe and Koenig; and Barthalomew Sillah of Kola. Trust is still the key element to build relationships with partners abroad and relationships cultivated over time prove to be most fruitful, especially when high-level negotiations get rocky.

In October, the Consulate General of China celebrated “China Day” in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Orchestra, hosting a special reception and concert at the Kimmel Center. Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

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