Since Tianjin in China and Kobe City in Japan became the first international sister cities for China (also known as friend or twin cities), over 250 Chinese cities and provinces have established nearly 1,200 twin cities with more than 800 foreign cities from over 100 countries. According to the goal of Chinese people's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and China International Friendship Cities Association, China will have established 1,500 international city twins by 2010.
Today, China is advancing triumphantly along its road of urbanization. China Association of Mayors pointed out that in the next 50 years, China's urbanized areas will have reached 76 percent of the country from 36 percent today, with the capability to accommodate 1.1-1.2 billion people. By then, the cities will have contributed over 95 percent of its national economic income. Currently, 70 percent of Chinese GDP and industrial output value, and 80 percent of the tax revenue come from the cities.
Are there too many cities in China? Chen Weibang, vice director of the Chinese Society for Urban Studies, gave his view that the primary shortage in China today is the city as there are still many problems to face in the contradictions between the urban and rural divide, the farming issue, between rich and poor, and so on.
With the development of China's economy and rapid globalization, going abroad to seek cooperation is a worldwide trend. The international twin cities in China increased by an annual average of 41 pairs since the 1980s, reaching an annual average of 70 pairs since Deng Xiaoping's remarks on reform during his southern China tour in 1992. In 1994, China matched 94 pairs. By the end of 1999, 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities as well as 228 cities had established 939 twins with 211 provinces (prefectures, and big regions) and 698 cities from 100 countries.
The twins' number was 1,012 by the end of 2000 and reached 1,100 by September 2002.
Increasingly Chinese cities are interested in this and go outside to find partners. According to government regulations, cities at vice provincial level may match a total of 15 sister cities.
How do cities become twins? Different friendship cities enjoy different characteristics. Some are based on common geographical positions such as latitude or longitude; some have similar city development; some are simply because of trade and business cooperation and need, while others result from touching stories.
Chen Haosu, vice president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said that the organization would help more cities in west China to establish pairing with foreign cities in the years to come.
(China.org.cn by Li Xiao June 12, 2003)