The Grand Canal, stretching nearly 1,120 miles from Beijing to Hangzhou, is the world's longest and oldest canal and is still a major artery in the eastern part of China.
The Grand Canal, stretching nearly 1,120 miles from Beijing to Hangzhou, is the world's longest and oldest canal and is still a major artery in the eastern part of China. Credit: Flickr / Christian Hans

WUXI, CHINA – A small delegation of San Antonians will travel to Wuxi, China, an official sister city of San Antonio, this week to participate in the eighth Wuxi International Sister Cities Forum “New Changes, New Opportunities – Urban Sustainable Development.”

The forum will be held from Tuesday Nov. 1 through Thursday Nov. 4 and will include the signing of cooperation and exchange agreements, keynote speeches, and the opportunity for visiting delegations from all over the world to promote their cities to Wuxi’s residents.

Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8), who was appointed vice chairman of Sister Cities International‘s board of directors this summer, will deliver the keynote speech “Our City, Our Water: How San Antonio, Texas Protects its Most Precious Natural Resource,” Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. CST.

The Rivard Report will livestream the speech via its Facebook page.

“I look forward to participating in a diplomatic exchange regarding one of the most significant issues facing the globe: water challenges in growing urban populations. The United Nations Water Decade (Water for Life) ended last year, and half of the world’s population still lives in a state of shortage. That’s why this work is so important,” Nirenberg stated in an email to the Rivard Report. “The stewardship of our most important resource is not only critical for our health but also an important measure of global stability.”

Martha Henry, senior international relations officer for the City of San Antonio, and James Andrews, principal at Overland Partners and chair of the China Committee of the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce, will travel to China to participate in the forum and economic exchanges.

The delegation will meet with the Wuxi artists set to travel to San Antonio for Luminaria and attend the eighth China Renewable Energy Exhibition which is being held in Wuxi this year.

In addition to the forum in Wuxi, the delegation will visit Shanghai for the Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Shanghai Green Building Council, and the City of Nanjing for a parallel trade mission.

A map of cities in China that will host urban planning and sustainability conferences this week.
A map of cities in China that will host urban planning and sustainability conferences this week. Credit: Courtesy / Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce

Sister Cities International was created in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster peaceful relationships between U.S. and international cities. There are now more than 2,300 participating communities in 150 countries. Wuxi became San Antonio’s ninth sister city in 2012.

“I am excited about the opportunity to deliver a message of peace and solidarity between our two cities and our two countries, despite the fact that the national political dialogue between China and the United States remains strained,” Nirenberg stated. “It’s this kind of citizen diplomacy – local city diplomacy – that is the foundation of world peace.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor recently returned from a trip to Windhoek, Namibia where she and Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua signed San Antonio’s 10th sister city agreement. She was joined by councilmen Alan Warrick (D2) and Ray Lopez (D6).

“The signing was such a momentous occasion,” Taylor stated in a news release. “Not only did it mark our 10th such MOU (memorandum of understanding), but it was our first with an African city. Windhoek is home to nearly all Namibian corporate headquarters, governmental bodies, and educational and cultural institutions. It is my hope that this Trade Mission will lead to great partnerships and business ventures.”

Wuxi, or ??, has a population of more than 6 million people in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu and was founded approximately 1,000 B.C.E. The city is situated on the Yangtze River and is bisected by the huge Lake Tai. Tourism attractions include the many old canals throughout the city which are still used by barges today – a familiar concept for San Antonians– and the many lush gardens in the area.

The city’s economy is centered on industrial manufacturing with more than 1,200 companies including solar energy, textile, and technology headquarters located in the Wuxi New District industrial park. Adding to Wuxi’s appeal as an industrial center is Shanghai, the world’s largest city at more than 24 million people, which is just 45 minutes away by train.

Sarah Talaat

Sarah Talaat

Former Rivard Report intern Sarah Talaat graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2016. You can find her in Beijing, China where she is pursuing a business journalism master's at Tsinghua...