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Chinese sister city delegates visit Hinesville
Members of the Chinese delegation take photographs on their bus ride around Liberty County. - photo by Photo by Marguerite West, Media on the Move
In a whirlwind, one-day trip to Hinesville, a delegation of Chinese leaders from Hinesville’s sister city of Yichun visited with local leaders and toured area employers. The delegation came to reaffirm the cities’ relationship and engage in in-depth conversations about economic goals and mutual benefits of partnering up as sister cities.
In interviews following a welcome reception and opening speeches, Yan Gan Hui, vice mayor of Yichun, and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas shared their thoughts on the visit and their anticipated goals for the meeting.
“This has been an excellent visit so far,” Thomas said. “We’ve had this relationship since 2008 and it’s important for us to tighten this relationship.”
Yichun and Hinesville were paired as sister cities through the daughter of a former Chinese official, who governed the province where Yichun is located. Hinesville city officials visited the city last year on a similar trip, and Thomas said he hopes they will be able to make the trip again in 2010.
Thomas added that he hopes the visit will allow Hinesville to show its Chinese counterparts how the city markets itself and its position in Georgia’s coastal region.
Georgia businessman Shane King served as the group’s translator and said the local government in Yichun operates somewhat differently than here, a characteristic he contributes to the still-recent modernization of China.
“Their decision-making process if more streamlined [compared to local governments in the U.S.],” King said. “There’s less infighting, especially on infrastructure projects.”
King added that public participation in local government is overseen by local committees, who take citizen input, but he’s not sure of the extent of residents’ involvement in civic affairs.
During its day trip around Liberty County, the Chinese visited local businesses SNF and Target and were scheduled to meet with representatives of Riceboro-based Interstate Paper during a luncheon. King said the primary goal of the trip is to understand the logistics of local employers and see how they compare to those of Yichun.
“They want to have a better understanding of key industries — the basis of this visit is economic development,” he said.
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