Surrey’s sister cities

Colllage by Laura R. Copes, with photos by Michelle Lee, Jerry Meaden and Ryoma35988

Colllage by Laura R. Copes, with photos by Michelle Lee, Jerry Meaden and Ryoma35988

This upcoming July 8 will commemorate the 28th year of Surrey’s sisterhood with Zhuhai, China. Since the relationship’s inception, Surrey and Zhuhai have shared a fruitful, symbiotic partnership that has only grown throughout the years. Zhuhai, named one of China’s cities with the Highest Sense of Happiness, also tops the list of China’s Most Sustainable Cities.

Tracy Kalaw, business development liaison for the city of Surrey, says that the city is very proud of its sister city relationship with Zhuhai.

“[We] are great partners and we have enjoyed mutually beneficial relations over the last 28 years. We look forward to the many years ahead,” Kalaw says.

A relationship of respect

The sisterhood first came to fruition on July 8th, 1987, when an agreement was signed by the then-mayor of Surrey, Don Ross.

“Some benefits of our sister city relationship with the city of Zhuhai include, but are not limited to, cultural exchange, information sharing, create opportunities for economic and community development,” Kalaw says.

In July of 2012, the cities of Surrey and Zhuhai celebrated 25 of years being sister cities. To celebrate the occasion, Surrey hosted a special tree ceremony in its iconic Holland Park for a delegation from Zhuhai to honor an age-old ritual of symbolic tree planting ceremonies that spans many countries and numerous cultures, explains Kawlan. Placing a healthy, vibrant young tree in the ground is a symbol of celebration- it represents respect, hope, growth and continuity. The ceremony was followed by a lunch hosted by then-Mayor Dianne Watts, with a celebratory cake and a tour of the new library and future City Hall.

“It was a great visit that highlighted the great relationship between the two cities,” says Kawlan.

Thriving sisters

Part of the cities’ cultural endeavours over the years included the Mayor’s Business Mission to China in November of 2012, when Mayor Watts visited Zhuhai.

“The delegation attended the world renowned Zhuhai air show as part of business promotion for Surrey-based companies who work in the aerospace industry,” says Kawlan.

According to the city of Surrey, the airshow, which takes place on even numbered years, is not the only culturally significant endeavour that Zhuhai has undertaken over the years. During odd numbered years, the city also hosts a circus festival, as well as the Chimelong International Ocean Resort.

Much like the city of Surrey, Zhuhai is an industrious port city, which borders Macao in the south and is adjacent to Hong Kong in the east. With a population of 1.59 million, Zhuhai is a thriving city with huge strides being made in the developments of transportation, infrastructure, finance, recreation, tourism and high-end manufacturing, as well as in technological industries such as medical biology according to the Business Development department of Surrey.

Like Zhuhai, the city of Surrey has flourished over the years and will continue to do so, not only due to the mutual understanding between the sister cities, but also due to the cultural development and festivals throughout the city.

As the second largest land port city in China, Zhuhai maintains a lead in air quality and has received multiple awards, including Most Beautiful City in China, the National Civilized City, Westerners’ Favourite and Most Liveable City in China.

“We will continue to nurture our relationship with the city of Zhuhai through visits, information sharing and promotion of our relationship,” says Kawlan about what is in store for the sisterhood’s future.

A second sister

In 1989, Surrey also signed a sister city agreement with Koto-ku, Japan. Koto-ku, being one of the twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, boasts a rich and diverse culture with a population of over 480,000 people. The friendly sisterhood has enjoyed a collaborative relationship with student delegation visits throughout the years.

The “City of Water,” as Koto-ku is known, has a lot in common with Surrey – it has thriving greenery and is reliant on the surrounding water. With Koto-ku’s main industries being information technology, transportation, manufacturing and fisheries, it is one of the fastest growing cities in Japan according to the city of Surrey.

Not only has Surrey cultivated relationships with its two sister cities, but has also brought about a plethora of new friendships in cities around the world, this millennium.

Jincheng, China, which became a friendship city in 2006, has a population of about 2.2 million and is located in the southeast of Shanxi province of north China. It has a rich coal industry and has taken ecological measures to help promote healthy air with the creation of parks and ecological reserves, while also shutting down or relocating some of the factories in the area. according to the Business Development department of Surrey.

Both Ludhiana and Jalandhar, Punjab were also included as cities of friendship in 2005, Taicang, China in 2004, Dongjak, Korea in 2000 and Ningbo, China in 1999.

To celebrate the 28th year of sisterhood with Zhuhai, China, the delegation from Zhuhai, Surrey’s first sister city, has been contacted and has indicated they may be visiting in June of 2015, but the visit has yet to be confirmed.