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Tianjin, China

Sister City Agreement Signed December 6, 1979            

Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter was graciously hosted
by Tianjin's Mayor Huang on December 3, 2012

Click to view the 2012 China Trip Photo Gallery

Mayor Michael Nutter visited Tianjin in December, 2012 with a core delegation that included Deputy Director of Commerce, Duane Bumb; First Deputy Chief of Staff, Suzanne Biemiller; and CDI's Nancy Gilboy. CDI administers Philadelphia's Sister Cities Program.

Mayor Nutter's visit was prompted by an invitation from former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose Paulson Institute was holding its second annual Conference on Sustainable Urban Cities.  As the head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Nutter was invited to speak, and as our country's "Sustainability Mayor," his talks were engaging and captured the attention of the audiences, not just for its substance but because he spoke with no notes and showed that he has made sustainability an important part of his agenda for Philadelphia. 

Thanks to the Olympics, a 2-hour car ride to Tianjin from Beijing became a 28 minute ride on the high-speed train, and Mayor Nutter took advantage of this fast train and made the first trip to Tianjin by a Philadelphia Mayor.

Joining Mayor Nutter were people representing Philadelphia's institutions and businesses who had worked with the Sister Cities Office to develop or deepen their relationships in Tianjin. An MOU was signed by six parties: 

- Mayor Nutter withTianjin's  Mayor Huang Xingguo to encourage trade development and education cooperation
- Julie Mostov, Drexel University's Associate Provost with Nankai University
- Kurt Schwinghammer, President of Fox Chase International with the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute
- Craig Hamilton, VP of the Philadelphia Orchestra with Tianjin's Cultural Center
- Gary Biehn, partner at White and Williams renewed its strategic alliance with the law firm, The Winners
- Terry Cooke, represented Ben Franklin Technology Partnership with Tianjin's TEDA, the Tianjin Economic Development Area

Two others with the delegation were John Chin, head of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., and Jennifer Linn, who covered the trip for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It was a historic event, not just with the MOU signings, but with the first visit to Tianjin by a Philadelphia Mayor. Thank you Mayor Nutter!

Our thanks to Mayor Huang and his great team in the Foreign Affairs Office for their attention to detail and the exquisite planning involved in the two-day visit.

And a VERY special thanks to Mandy Hu, president of Asia Travel in Philadelphia's Chinatown, who arrived in China just prior to our visit to make sure all arrangements were taken care of and to serve as the delegation's interpreter throughout the visit.  She met Mayor Nutter, Suzanne, Duane and Nancy at the Beijing Airport at midnight with traditional flowers, a car and driver - and a guide who began the delegation's visit with an overview of the city Chinese culture.  A great beginning.  Thank you Mandy! 


Yaohua Principal Ren and five teachers paid a short visit (one day and night) to William Penn Charter School in December. They made the most of their brief amount of time and their visit was a big success.  The whole group loved Penn Charter and Principal Ren had a very constructive conversation with their school head, Dr. Darryl Ford, about the future of their relationship.  Here is a photo of their visit.

SISTER CITIES SCHOLAR, Haoren Yu, is originally from Tianjin and arrived in Philadelphia as a Sister City Scholar.  She is currently studying at Fox School of Business, Temple University, and will graduate in December 2012 with a degree in Actuarial Science.  Following is an essay on her experiences in the U.S.

                         ~ Bride of Frankenstein 

Special Thanks to

Nancy Gilboy and CDI family

Joan Stevens

The Dean of Moore College of Art and Design

Gene and Deborah LeFevre

Mart Dolye

MIS Department Professor at Temple Unversity

Roman Nicholas and his Italian family

Students at Temple University

There were millions of times when I would like to start to write this piece, however, somehow, there is always something that stops me from doing so. I tried to define it - is it the youth? Is it the understandings for life that I have not lived long enough to claim? The unknown hopes that I am still pursuing? For me, I hope that this piece will not be fabricated carols for life, but a genuine description of my life spent these years in this foreign country and my most sincere wishes for the future. Yes, this is the most important thing that I have learned since the first second when I arrived to this country.

They have been telling me to express myself freely and truthfully, just like how they have been treating me. Thus, I feel free to tell, the brilliant parts, the dark side, the hope, the desperation, and much more about what I could never experience if I did not leave my homeland.

Nearly five years ago, the textures of these feelings for this foreign land had not been completely mature. The most common images in my mind were that six young people who always hung out in a Brooklyn cafe called Central Park Cafe. They shared every spice of life with complete trust and unconditional care for each other. That's one of my favorite entertainments that I had during studying. I loved laughing with the audience, and trying to remember what they talked about in the show. Because later at school, these funny dialogues were always the coolest topics among my peers.   

Thus, when I told my parents that I wanted to come to this country for college, I did not have a glimpse of fear or worry.I did not have much reasoning skills over my parents' anxiety. At least, I knew that I never saw such a TV show in my first 17 years of life. 

Five years later, here I am, sitting along a traditional family Thanksgiving dinner table. The aroma from a 14 inches homemade warm apple pie crammed all of my sensation. It kept reminding me how diligently I live my life and how grateful I should be from my experiences.

Simplicity does not always associate with impulsive decisions. I was right about it. 

In this country when one talks about the countless obstacles that they have to go through to accomplish something. I also notice how much effort that Americans put into learning, appreciating, and accepting our culture. When one asks for extra considerations because of their language barrier, I can never refuse their generosity to offer me priceless patience and understanding. 

It is not home yet, but it tells me that home could be everywhere.

Here, what I hear about is the constant request for equality, freedom of speech, and broader views for the people, the globe, and diversity in society. I am thankful for the light smiles in everyone's face, for every simple attempt to comprehend what we say in our broken English sentences, for the handshakes and hugs, for the "yes", "sure", and "let me help you". 

They let me know that the best way to accept you is not to let you realize your differences.

This reveals to me what I, and my generation, should look for, the answer should not simply be American dreams anymore. Nowadays the pursue should be possibilities, understandings, seeking for equality and growing strength in bonding two of the most magnificent countries. This is what I strongly believe in, and what I feel from all the devotion from this country has made for people like our next generations and me.

Ed Marks, a teacher from William Penn Charter School, created an exchange with Yaohua School in Tianjin.  Ed spent five months on a sabbatical in Tianjin to teach at the school.  Below are photos from his trip.

First established under the Song Dynasty 960 A.D., Tianjin has been the economic lifeline to the capital city of Beijing.  Located on the Hai River, it was an important 19th century port that acquired British, French and Japanese flavor.  Since Tianjin is the largest coastal opening in northern China, it quickly became a modernized port and important economic center.  There are approximately 9 million people that live in Tianjin.  Their products, such as textiles, chemicals, rubber and metallurgical items, have become highly competitive in the domestic and world markets. In recent years, they created the Tianjin Economic Development Area where many international companies have invested and established company sites within the city.  Tianjin is home to China's first university and since its pairing with Philadelphia in 1980, many educational, trade, cultural and professional exchanges have taken place.  The famous Gate in Philadelphia's Chinatown was a gift from Tianjin and was recently restored.

In Tianjin, Philadelphia's Sister City and the third largest city in China, new exchange and dual bachelor's - master's degree programs that will begin accepting students in 2011 were established at Nankai and Tianjin Normal universities. Additionally, in Shanghai, the Temple delegation visited the Pennsylvania Center and met with Jimmy Yoh, a member of the Board of Visitors of the College of Science and Technology, to learn about the American expatriate experience and activities in higher education in China.

These photos are from the reception held in Conversation Hall on Monday, February 13, 2012. Through contacts made from the Sister Cities Offices in Philadelphia and Tianjin, two law firms, White & Williams LLP in Philadelphia and The Winners Law Firm in Tianjin, signed a historic strategic alliance agreement. Mayor Nutter participated in the signing ceremony with 90+ attendees as witnesses, including three City Councilmen: William Greenlee, David Oh, and Mark Squilla.

In October, Vice Mayor Ren Xue-feng of Tianjin visited Philadelphia for a quick visit with two officials.  They met privately with Mayor Nutter in his office and presented a beautiful picture book of Tianjin.  Vice Mayor Ren also toured the Navy Yard and met with Will Agate, Vice President of Navy Yard Management & Development for PIDC.  Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger joined the delegation The Pennsylvania Chinese American Chamber of Commerce sponsored their welcome dinner. 

These photos are from Mr. Song Jinchang's visit to Philadelphia in January 2011.  Mr. Song is the Deputy Director General of the Foreign Affairs Office, Tianjin Municipal People's Government, and is responsible for creating the Sister City relationship with Philadelphia.  He and his six-member delegation visited Philadelphia for one day to meet with Mayor Nutter and Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger.  They also enjoyed a private tour of Independence National Historical Park and were hosted for lunch at City Tavern and dinner at Ristorante Panorama.

Above are photos of a delegation that visited Philadelphia in November 2010 to meet with Mayor Nutter.  The delegation was sponsored by the Tianjin Municipal Commission of Economic Development and Reform.  They were from the Tianjin Binhai District which has had a multi-billion dollar infusion of funds from the Chinese government for economic development especially clean technology.

The above photos are from a Binhai delegation that visited Philadelphia in July 2010.  While in Philadelphia, they met with Deputy Mayor Greenberger, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Select Greater Philadelphia.  Their visit coincided with the opening of the Philadelphia-Tianjin Business Development Council.

Ms. Ren and her mother, Ms. Zhao, from Tianjin, recently visited the U.S. to look at high schools.  After arriving in New York, they visited schools in Connecticut and then travelled to Philadelphia for three days.  Our office arranged for her to meet with school officials from Friends Select and William Penn Charter.

The photos above are from the 2008 wedding in City Hall of Tianjin's Mu Yang, an intellectual property attorney, and her husband, Kai Chen, a consultant with Deloitte.

On November 19, 2008,  Mayor Michael A. Nutter joined the delegation from Philadelphia’s Chinese Sister City, Tianjin, at a rededication and lighting ceremony of the Friendship Gate in Chinatown. Read more. View the gallery. Read an article.

To learn more about Tianjin, visit: