Top 5 Moments from the 2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference

Welcome Reception (Cyrus Tang Hall of China)

This year’s U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference was an incredible display of citizen and subnational diplomacy at its best as Chicago played host to nearly 100 delegates who flew in from China along with dozens of U.S. business leaders, government officials, and citizen diplomats from across the U.S. This monumental convening created a powerful reminder about the important role the sister cities global network plays in bringing together diverse cultures around one common goal: shared prosperity and a desire to create a better understanding of one another. The Conference also celebrated the 30th Anniversaries of Chicago’s sister cities Shanghai and Shenyang and also kicked off a few new partnerships in the process.

Here is a run-down of some of our favorite moments:

1. Welcome Reception

Welcome Reception (Cyrus Tang Hall of China)

The Conference began with a beautiful welcome reception hosted by Chicago Sister Cities International at one of the city’s premier attractions, the Field Museum. There, guests were treated to delicious delicacies and a special preview of the newly opened Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibit with textiles, rubbings, bronzes, ceramics, and sculptures all in a new 21 centenary innovative and interactive manner.

A key moment was when Leroy Allala, Executive Director of Chicago Sister Cities International gave remarks along with Jeff Malehorn, President and CEO of World Business Chicago; Steve Koch, Deputy Mayor of Chicago; Mary Kane, President and CEO of Sister Cities International; Wenjian Fang, Executive Vice President USA of Bank of China; and Xie Yuan, Vice President of Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. 

2. Opening Welcome 

Opening Welcome (Mayor Rahm Emanuel)

The Conference kicked off Friday morning with opening remarks Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago. Mayor Emanuel discussed how important the Shanghai and Shenyang sister city partnerships are to the city of Chicago and Chicagoans, saying that the city of Chicago sees their sister city relationships with China as fundamental economic, commercial, and cultural gateways. 

Following Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mary D. Kane; Xie Yuan; Huang Kai, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of Shenyang People’s Congress; and Wenjian Fang made remarks to welcome all to the Conference. 

3. Conference Breakout Sessions and Luncheon Keynote

Breakout session

This year’s breakout sessions focused on growing U.S.-China knowledge and partnerships. Experts and practitioners from the U.S. and China took part as panelists in eight sessions on topics such as educational exchange, building business in China, reviving sister city partnerships, tourism, economic development, and more. 

The luncheon keynote featured Jake Cefolia, Vice President of Atlantic and Pacific Sales for United Airlines. We’re thrilled to have had United as our proud Conference sponsor. 

4. Closing Dinner: Entertainment

Closing dinner entertainment (Angela Tam)

One of the true highlights of the conference was the entertainment by the Chinese Fine Arts Society which included four beautiful performances including traditional Chinese music played on a pipa (four-stringed Chinese musical instrument) and a guzheng (a Chinese plucked zither) by Jie Hao and Menghua Guan. The dinner included 11-year-old violinist Chizuru Tanaka’s performance of “Feng” by Lei Liang; dancer Angela Tam’s performance of a traditional ribbon dance called Feitian; and Ryan Shi’s Chinese yo-yo or “diabolo” performance. 

5. Closing Dinner: Sister City Signings

Closing dinner sister city signing (Tustin and Heyuan)

In a suitable way to celebrate 30 years of Chicago-China partnerships, the Conference played host to the creation of two new ones. To end the closing dinner, attendees witnessed sister city signings between Tustin, California and Heyuan, Guangdong Province as well as Yorba Linda, California and Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province. Charles Puckett, Mayor of Tustin; Zhu Weiwei, Vice Mayor of Heyuan; Craig Young, Past Mayor and Council Member of Yorba Linda; and Yang Changya, Mayor of Tongchuan were present to sign their new agreements. We’re excited to see how these new sister city pairs evolve in the future and help to continue the rich tradition of creating a better world and shared prosperity through building bridges between our societies.

To view more photos from the Conference, visit

The 2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference in the News


Chicago Tribune

ChinaDaily USA

ChinaDaily USA

ChinaDaily USA

The Columbia Chronicle

The DePaulia

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News Guangdong

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World Journal

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