October 26, 2010 > Sister city committee hosts delegation
Sister city committee hosts delegation
By Simon Wong
Photo by Simon Wong
Hayward-Yixing Sister City Committee members and Hayward City Council graciously hosted a luncheon and meeting with a delegation of officials from the City of Wuxi, [pronounced Wu-x-shi], (China) during a recent low-key visit.
A visit by a delegation from Yixing, Hayward's Chinese sister city, has been anticipated for some time but Yixing officials have cancelled several planned trips because of last-minute business.
The Hayward-Yixing Sister City Formation Committee was established in December 2008 to explore ways to create formal ties between the cities of Hayward (California) and Yixing (Jiangsu Province) under the Sister Cities program which was initiated in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower. In September 2009, Hayward City Council and Mayor Michael Sweeney officially recognized and approved the requests.
The Committee's activities focus on the engagement and exploration of educational, scientific, social, literary, historical and charitable pursuits that promote friendship and mutual benefit for both cities.
Founded 3,000 years ago, Wuxi is a prefecture-level city in Jiangsu province and administers nine county-level divisions, including seven districts and two county-level cities, of which one is Yixing. Wuxi is nicknamed "Pearl of Tai" because it was built on the shores of Lake Taihu, which splits the city into northern and southern halves, and is also known as "little Shanghai" because of its proximity to the city, its booming economy and rapid urbanization.
A prefecture-level city is not a "city" in the usual sense (i.e. a large urban settlement) but is an administrative unit typically comprising a main central urban area (a city in the usual sense, usually with the same name as the prefecture-level city) and its much larger surrounding rural area containing multiple counties, county-level cities, towns and villages. The prefecture-level city of Wuxi covers approximately 1,850 square miles.
The Wuxi delegation's trip to Hayward on October 6, 2010, was one of several courtesy visits being paid to sister cities of the municipalities over which Wuxi has jurisdiction. The cities of Alameda and Davis happen to be sister cities and/or twinned with Wuxi.
The visitors were welcomed at Skywest Golf Course Restaurant and entertained to lunch by the Hayward-Yixing Sister City Committee, Kim Huggett (President/CEO, Hayward Chamber of Commerce), Mayor Sweeney, Council members Barbara Halliday and Bill Quirk. Gifts of porcelain and an engraved salver were presented to the city.
Lunch was followed by a tour of Hayward before an informal meeting at City Hall where Mayor Sweeney presented the distinguished guests with gifts and introduced Councilmen Mark Salinas and Francisco Zermeľo. The visitors presented each councilman with a tie and Councilwoman Halliday with a scarf.
Before attending the Hayward and Union City Chambers of Commerce Business Expo under the Grand White Tent at St. Rose Hospital, each group discussed government in their respective country.
"We have a council-manager form of government. The citizens elect the mayor and council members. We make policies and hire a city manager to implement them," began Mayor Sweeney. "The Founding Fathers established the doctrine of 'separation of powers' which keeps the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government distinct. It is part of American political history and associated with checks and balances.
"At federal level, US Congress [the legislative] makes the law, the President [executive] carries out the law and the courts [judiciary] interpret the law. This is replicated at state level where the legislature makes the law, which the governor enacts and the courts interpret. The council-manager system is part of this American tradition.
"Of course, the President has an impact on making the law and there are shared powers in addition to the separation of powers," the Mayor explained.
"In China, the People's Congress is the highest body and, like US Congress, makes the regulations and local laws by which local government must abide. The People's Congress has the authority to supervise and monitor what local government is doing correctly or incorrectly," explained Jianguo Ma, Deputy Director, Standing Committee of Wuxi Municipal People's Congress.
"Municipal governments must seek approval from the People's Congress for any major decisions. Each year, we report work for the previous year and submit what we would like to do in the next 12 months. For instance, the People's Congress approves the municipal budget.
"The People's Congress has five layers - National, Provincial, City, County and Township. Each level elects representatives for the tier above. China is so populous that a popular vote would mean most candidates seeking office would be elected. There is a limit on the number of candidates in proportion to the number of seats available. A maximum of 110 candidates are allowed per 100 seats at the national level, and 120 per 100 at the provincial level. The ratio increases for each lower level of people's congress, until the lowest level, the village level, has no limit on the number of candidates for each seat," concluded Ma.
"Regional government, in the form of the Association of Bay Area Governments, bears a close resemblance to an assembly as it is a council of governments," remarked Mayor Sweeney.
The Wuxi delegation rounded off their visit with dinner hosted by Hayward-Yixing Sister Committee members aboard a cruise vessel in San Francisco Bay from where the visitors were delighted by a clear view of the night sky. This is no longer so in many urban areas in China because of pollution and the "glow" from buildings.
Coincidentally, the neighboring cities of Hayward and Union City have established sister city relationships with neighboring cities in China, viz. Yixing and Liyang, respectively.
For more information about the Hayward-Yixing Sister City Committee, contact Marita Cheng (Founder & Chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hal Gin (Vice Chair) at email@example.com.