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February 24, 2010 > Sister city inaugural fundraiser, a great success

Sister city inaugural fundraiser, a great success

By Simon Wong

The Hayward-Yixing Sister City Committee hosted its first gala fundraising event at the Skywest Golf Course Restaurant, Hayward, on February 6.

Members, sponsors and special guests were entertained with gourmet food, fine wines from Lone Oak Estate Winery (courtesy of Larry and Kathleen Ratto), music by the Chabot College Jazz Combo and traditional Chinese music by Yan Hong Hie. Items ranging from chinoiserie to gift certificates to passes for the Stonebrae Golf Tournament to lunch with Mayor Mike Sweeney and Councilors Barbara Halliday, Kevin Dowling and Anna May were auctioned live and silently.

The City of Yixing, also known as the Pottery Capital of China, falls under the jurisdiction of Wuxi (akin to a county). It is famed for its production of unglazed teapots made from Zisha (purple) clay which is found on the Sushan Hill nearby. The clay also has other colors, from light brown to red, depending on the mineral content. Tens of thousands of Yixing Zisha teapots are exported annually.

Traditionally, agriculture was the city's largest revenue source but, over the past two decades, has come to account for less than 10 percent of total income. Local and foreign investment has spurred economic growth and diversification in recent years.

Yixing is one of the top 10 cities in China's Top 100 Cities for economic strength and performance. There is an abundance of industrial parks, including a national scientific, industrial park devoted to solar-panel production and environmental protection. Yixing is also known for its sustainability efforts, conservation of the local environment and natural resources, including water, minerals and bamboo, and for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Major roads and highways connect Yixing to the nearby metropolitan areas of Nanjing and Shanghai.

The city's potteries and natural resources draw many tourists to the area. Production of tea ware began in the North Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD) and flourished in the Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1644-1912 AD) dynasties. The presence of underground water means there are many caves in the area, such as Zhanggong, Linggu and Shanjuan, some of which were discovered and visited by tourists in the 1930s.

"Members of the Hayward-Yixing Sister Committee - Marita Cheng, Dr. Hal Gin, Kathleen Ratto, Harry Tse, Warren Woo, Francis Cheng, Anna May, Greg Jones, Nancy Li and Larry Ratto - have done an outstanding job. We want you to know we appreciate your good work," said Mayor Sweeney before he and fellow council members presented the Committee with a Certificate of Commendation.

"We're pleased Consul-General Gao and the vice consuls could join us and look forward to a long working relationship with the people of the great City of Yixing," he added.

"I extend our warm congratulations on the formation of this sister-city relationship and express my sincere appreciation for the commitment of you all to the friendship between these two cities and between China and America," stated Consul-General Gao.

"I'm the tenth consul-general from China in San Francisco. I arrived about two years ago and feel very lucky and honored to be posted here in America... After 30 years of concerted effort the relationship between our countries has made tremendous progress and is completely different from the past.

"Trade between China and the US is 130 times greater than three decades ago. In 2008, American exports to China amounted to $337.3 billion. About 2.5 million people crossed the Pacific to visit; that's about 6,800 personal exchanges per day. The five states in my consular district - California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Alaska - account for 35 percent of US exports to China.

"The Hayward-Yixing sister city relationship adds new blood to the 40 sister cities between China and the state of California. Hayward, the sixth largest Bay Area city, and Yixing, located in the seventh most developed county in China, have great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation and exchanges that serve not only the interests of the people of both cities but provide great impetus to the cooperation between California and China and, particularly, between China and America.

"This new year will be the Year of the Tiger. The tiger symbolizes energy, courage and leadership. I wish you happiness, success and prosperity," concluded Gao.

A delegation from Yixing is expected in Hayward in July/August. Future plans include exchange programs. Both Chabot College and CalState University, East Bay, have indicated their interest in educational exchange. The medical profession is also interested in exchange hospital visits and nursing programs. Both Chabot and CalState have highly regarded nursing programs and St. Rose Hospital might also be on the itinerary. Visits to industrial and manufacturing companies are being planned.

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