Chinese officials visit Scottsdale dignitaries, organizations

From left, Kathy George, president of Scottsdale Sister Cities; Du Liwen, Director of the Haikou Municipal People’s Congress; Scottsdale Fire Fighter David Watts; and Wu Shu Qiang, Deputy Executive Director, Haikou Municipal Public Security Bureau. Fire Fighter Watts demonstrates use of the Thermal Imaging Camera during the Chinese delegation’s visit to Scottsdale. (Photo by Bob Rink)

Meetings held the last week of July with top officials from Haikou, People’s Republic China and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, city officials and Scottsdale Sister Cities Association members identified areas where the two cities can work together.

Scottsdale residents Joe Brett and Max Rumbaugh, both past presidents of SSCA, agreed to take the first stab at developing a mutual five-year plan of action in the fields of education, tourism, medicine, public works and public safety, according to a press release.

“I believe this visit furthers our friendship,” said Mr. Du Liwen, chairman of the Haikou Municipal People’s Congress and leader of the delegation, said in the release.

Haikou, which was designated as a Scottsdale Sister city in 2010, is the capital of China’s island province of Hainan in the South China Sea.  With tropical weather, sandy beaches and several golf courses, Hainan has been designated by the central government as an “international tourism island” and had 58 million visitors last year, most of them from within China.

The July 25 morning tour included the following and the messages communicated to the visitors:

  • Scottsdale Center for the Performing arts – the power of public/private partnerships in building and maintaining public places for culture;
  • Scottsdale Civic Center Library – the novel idea of creating library environments where children and youth can congregate; and
  • Scottsdale Municipal Court – where a mock trial, with Haikou visitors sitting in the jury box, dramatized the right to a jury trial and legal representation, as well as the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty.”

From there, the group went for lunch and a post-lunch discussion with Mayor Jim Lane.

From left, SSCA member Max Rumbaugh, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, Haikou Municipal People’s Congress chairman Du Liwen and SSCA member Joe Brett shake on the pledge to work together in the future. (Photo by Bob Rink)

From left, SSCA member Max Rumbaugh, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, Haikou Municipal People’s Congress chairman Du Liwen and SSCA member Joe Brett shake on the pledge to work together in the future. (Photo by Bob Rink)

These discussions focused on how Scottsdale plans for and undertakes security for the large numbers of visitors it has for major events such as the Waste Management PGA Tournament and the Barrett Jackson Car Auction.

Later in the afternoon July 25, the delegation met with Vice Mayor Kathy Littlefield, City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp, and several managers of the city.  These discussions focused on development of future exchanges between the two cities.  Ideas included planning, public works, teacher exchanges, and workplace wellness.

Tuesday morning, the Chinese visited Scottsdale public safety officials to discuss emergency response systems.  Scottsdale fire and safety officials invited Haikou officials to visit Scottsdale during one of its major winter events to observe preparation for security and medical preparedness at these events.

It was children who made the visit truly memorable, the release stated.

When the Haikou visitors saw the children playing in the creative children’s sections at the Civic Center Library, they gave their first smiles. Then, at the Monday night banquet, they smiled cheek-to-cheek when they heard four little Scottsdale children greet them in fluent Mandarin, and then sing popular Chinese songs.

SSCA president Kathy George, third from left, assembled the Haikou group before they took a tour of Scottsdale Civic Center Library. (submitted photo)

The universal language – children — required no translation.  The Haikou visitors just melted; if there had been a gauge to measure the warmth of the visit, it would have risen by several degrees.

The young children who participated are Kelton, Kiki and Keilidh Gerrity and Quin Williams, according to the press release.

“The mission of Sister Cities is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.  That’s what we hope to do in Haikou and in the seven other cities with which we partner,” said Scottsdale Sister Cities President Kathy George, in the release.

The visit from Haikou officials was the latest in a series of exchanges between that city and Scottsdale officials and residents, starting in 2009:

  • 2009 – first delegation to Haikou by Scottsdale Sister Cities members
  • 2010 – Mayors of both cities sign Sister Cities agreement to long-term collaboration in the areas of business development, culture, and education exchanges
  • 2011 – Scottsdale hosts “Haikou:  Scottsdale’s Gateway to China” exhibit at Civic Center Library and participates in the Haikou Tourism and Sports Expo
  • 2013 – Haikou doctors visit Scottsdale healthcare establishments
  • 2015 – Scottsdale high school students visit Haikou, staying in the homes of students there (trip supervised by Scottsdale Sister Cities members and Scottsdale Unified School District teachers)
  • July, 2016 – top-ranking Haikou officials visit Scottsdale

Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House conference on citizen diplomacy.  President Eisenhower envisioned an organization that could be the hub of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world.

Scottsdale Sister Cities Association was inaugurated in 1969.  Membership is not restricted to Scottsdale residents.

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