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March 17, 2010

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Sister City relations sustained for 30 years

It's a landmark year for Shanghai not only because of the World Expo but because it marks the 30th anniversary of the Shanghai-San Francisco sister city relationship.

Forged in 1980, it is one of the oldest sister city relationships between the United States and China, and is rated one of the most active by Sister Cities International.

To date at the Expo Shanghai, San Francisco will be the only US city to participate in the Urban Best Practices Area.

Concurrently a yearlong festival named "Shanghai Celebration" is being held in San Francisco which explores the intriguing development and character of the city through performances, concerts, films, exhibitions, stories, discussions and other special events.

A cornerstone of the festival is an exhibition named "Shanghai" at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum which, through 130 artworks, traces the visual culture of Shanghai from 1850 to today. The exhibition will run through to September 5.

The exhibition mirrors one of the first and most groundbreaking exchanges in the 30-year relationship.

In 1983, an exhibition at the same Californian museum, titled "Treasures from the Shanghai Museum: 6,000 Years of Chinese Art," involved 232 artifacts from Shanghai Museum including porcelain, bronze, fine art and handicrafts. Visitors numbered over 835,000 from 11 countries and regions around the world.

The relationship was first forged by then San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein to promote goodwill and friendship between the two cities through a constructive series of economic, social and educational exchanges.

Over the past 30 years the relationship has brought about high-profile visits by leaders of both cities to the respective countries, often the first visits by either side. Other landmark exchanges include the International Business Management Program. From 1984 to 2009, eight programs to train high-level business managers and executives were hosted in both cities as a result of the collaboration between the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office and the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee. The programs trained in total 103 management personnel in international management and cooperation skills.

Furthermore the five-year collaboration between Renji Hospital in Shanghai and San Francisco's St Mary's Medical Center in 1982 resulted in the opportunity for Chinese doctors to study and observe at St Mary's Cardiovascular Research Institute.

St Mary's also donated over US$110,000 worth of equipment and pharmaceuticals to Shanghai. At the end of the collaboration, a joint research and training institute was set up in Shanghai to nurture future medical talents.


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