Ties with Chinese sister city explored
Sanford may soon play host to a delegation from the city of Yixing, China. According to Mayor Chet Mann, Yixing officials are interested in Yixing becoming sister cities with Sanford.
“They have expressed this interest, and we are communicating,” Mann said at Wednesday’s Law and Finance Committee meeting. “They have expressed a desire to come, possibly in June.”
Mann is asking the council for $5,000 to receive the visiting officials.
Mann spoke of the similarities between Sanford and Yixing that would make the two compatible as sister cities. He said that, like Sanford, Yixing is renown for its pottery. Becoming sister cities would potentially open up the opportunity to display Yixing pottery in Sanford and vice versa.
“I think [$5,000] is a mighty inexpensive proposal for the actual economic potential of something like this,” said Council Member Samuel Gaskins. “Not only having visitors from China, but an exhibition of their pottery here in Lee County, where people know they are coming for pottery in the first place.”
Also advocating for the idea was Bud Marchant, president of Carolina Central Community College, who said, “They are the pottery capital of China. They make a very special blue-glaze pottery there.”
The city has worked closely with the college, which Marchant said is the only community college in North Carolina with a Confucius Classroom, a program taught by visiting scholars from China that offers courses in Chinese language and culture.
“We would like to see some business relationships from the community college standpoint,” Marchant said. “There are a lot of Chinese businesses looking to invest in the United States, and we think Lee County is the perfect place.”
Sanford also has collaborated with Lian Xie and the Carolina China Council. Xie serves as president of the council, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting business, cultural and educational exchanges between the Carolinas and China.
“We are in a global economy,” Xie said. “We all need to have a broader and global view in order to help our citizens and businesses to succeed in this new economy. With international connection, you have another platform to engage beyond your traditional area where you do your business.”
Xie mentioned that a Chinese sister city would serve Sanford well, saying that many cities, such as Raleigh, Durham and Pinehurst, already are in the process of forging such relationships. Xie also stressed the educational benefits of closer ties with Yixing, which is located near the city of Nangjing in China. CCCC has a partnership with the Nangjing Normal University to host visiting Chinese scholars.
“The goal is to enhance mutual understanding and have a cross-cultural understanding,” Xie said. “With participation from schools and colleges, we help produce students with a broader perspective.”
Mann said that the delegation would be made up of six representatives, including the vice mayor of Yixing and the director of the Yixing Tourism Bureau, who would visit the city for four days.
Mann said, “I think this is very important for Sanford. It fosters that cultural development that we are looking for.”