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San Francisco, Shanghai forge ahead

OVER the past 10 years, the relationship between San Francisco and Shanghai has grown as both cities have experienced tremendous growth. Shanghai particularly has transformed itself from architectural museum into modern metropolis - accelerated further as host of the World Expo 2010.

The work last month of the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee explored the Expo theme of "Better City, Better Life" by showcasing innovations in green technology and sustainable energy during the San Francisco Week.

"We're proud that we continue to lead in the area of green technology and sustainability," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom during the celebration of the 30-year sister-city relationship in Shanghai.

At the same gala, Shanghai Vice Mayor Tang Dengjie said, through a translator, that the relationship "remains steadfast and strong."

"Through our friendship, Shanghai has benefited a lot from the accomplishments. We are very happy to see great results have been achieved in many areas including commerce and trade, culture and science," he said.

Mayor Newsom said more collabortion is needed with other cities like Shanghai.

"Most importantly, we recognize that our fate and future is tied to those around the world," said Newsom.

"We don't have the answers to all our problems. But we know the answers are out there."

Sister City Committee Vice Chairman Anton Qiu, born in Shanghai and a committee member since 1989, also noted that the committee must change.

"In the future, the committee has to evolve with the changing of China," he said.

"Twenty-five years ago we sent books because Shanghai had a thirst for knowledge. Go to Shanghai now and their library is bigger and better and more modern than our library. They have the same technology we have," said Qiu, a 1980 emigrant from Shanghai to San Francisco.

"In the past they came mostly to learn from us, and now, more than ever, a lot of us go back to Shanghai to learn what's going on there and to catch up," he observed.

To illustrate, the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding by Mayors Han Zheng and Newsom changed the Sister City-sponsored Business Management Program.

Geared toward bringing key managers from Shanghai to San Francisco, San Francisco sent its first fellows to Shanghai for specialized training.

Future San Francisco-Shanghai relationships might learn from the world's fifth-largest semiconductor company and one of America's greenest companies, according to Newsweek magazine.

Returning to Shanghai was San Francisco Week's lead sponsor Dai Weili. Silicon Valley's Marvell Technology Group's co-founder also made the Shanghai-to-San Francisco trek in 1980, as did Qiu. Last month, she led the sister-city delegation for San Francisco Week at the World Expo Shanghai.

Dai is working with the local governments of China and the United States to enact stricter energy efficiency guidelines for consumer electronics. The Sister City Committee bridges two cities she calls home.

"They're both very powerful cities in very powerful countries and there's a lot of synergy," said Dai, who operates plants in Shanghai and the San Francisco Bay Area. "There are a lot of opportunities to leverage the teamwork, the talent, the technology and the business leadership."

Leveraging those same opportunities, Sister City Committee Chairman James Fang envisions both cities sharing many issues and even more opportunities to cooperate. "What I envision for the next 30 years is a mutually beneficial push for sustainable energy. I see projects where we create green-collar jobs," he said.

Fang said cultural and humanitarian projects will continue, including realizing the vision of a San Francisco Chinese garden described in the first memorandum of understanding.

Ensuring that the committee thrives requires leadership, said Charlotte Shultz, San Francisco's chief of protocol.

"This relationship is the model of all sister cities because of the leadership. A sister city is only as good as the leadership. The programs have grown and they have lasted - those are the things we can be most proud of," she said.

The wife of former US Secretary of State George Shultz has worked with the committee since 1980, including chairs Tom Hsieh, Gordon Lau, Walter Fong and Fang.


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