Bahamas Participates In China Friendship Forums

President of the Bahamas-China Friendship Association Philip Simon addresses the delegates at the 2010 Friendship Forum in Jiangxi, China.

President of the Bahamas-China Friendship Association President Philip Simon and Vice President Anthony Capron ably represented the Bahamas China Friendship Association at the 2010 China International Friendship Cities Conference held in Shanghai, China, September 8-10. They were also participants at the Fourth Friendship Forum in Jiangxi, September 10-16.

Co-sponsored by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and the China International Friendship Cities Association (CIFCA), the conference themed “Better Cities Through Cooperation,” was addressed by former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and a number of high profiled members of the Chinese government.

Also addressing the opening session was Chen Haosu, president of the CPAFFC, who welcomed the 700 delegates from China and 47 countries and expressed the desire to further the growth and development of international friendship cities.

Among the topics covered by a number of officials from China’s provincial governments and some former international country leaders were the tackling of the global financial crisis, protection of the urban environment, conservation of energy and emissions reduction, exploration and utilisation of new energy resources, and urban infrastructure construction and public transportation.

Philip Simon, chats with residents of Zifang Village in Jiangxi, China.

In his keynote address to the opening session, Cheng Siwei, former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress noted that climate change and the rise in temperature will affect the survival of people across the world. He said a strong boost must be given to the development of a green economy.

Four additional foreign country cities were twinned with cities in China bringing the total number of liaisons to 1,721 since the first pair of international friendship cities were joined in 1973. The newly twinned friendship cities are: Xi’an and Cuenca City, Ecuador; Jinzhong and Hoi An City, Vietnam; Jincheng and Cacadu District, South Africa; and Jiading District and Hauraki, New Zealand.

The signing was presided over by Li Jianping, vice president of the CPAFFC.  A treat for the international guests was a visit to the Chinese pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010, where the exhibition depicted the rapid growth and urbanisation of China since its opening up to the outside world in 1978. Delegates were also allowed to tour the expo individually and to visit their own country’s exhibitions.

Philip Simon (far right) shows his moves in an integrated dance at the 2010 Friendship Forum in Jiangxi, China.

In his five minute speech on Strategic Thinking on City Environment Protection, Energy Saving and Emission Reduction, Jia Jianping, Deputy Division Director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, said that private cars conserve a lot of road space, which could be better put to use with a reliable and efficient public transportation system.

“Traffic congestion contribute to hours lost at work and to having freight and goods stuck on the roads,” said Mr Jia. And he emphasised that public transportation “is indeed the only way out of the traffic nightmare.”

The majority of the speakers expounded on the people-to-people aspect of sister cities and the mutual benefits and satisfaction that can be derived from such interaction among the different countries of the world.

At the Friendship Forum Mr. Simon recapped for delegates some of the highlights for The Bahamas since diplomatic relations was established with China in 1997. He explained that “friendship must be the door through which we develop and build sustainable people to people relationships.”

He said that people make things happen and that relationships are built and developed through activity and interaction.

“True friends make each other better,” said Mr. Simon, indicating that at some point in the near future the Bahamas China Friendship Association will be seeking sister city relationships with China.

He noted that at the heart of the collective mission and objective of China and other countries is the pursuit of friendship.

“It is fundamentally the one definitive link that we aspire to achieve. For in the meaning of friendship, true friendship, there is an understanding and acceptance of who we are as a people and as individual persons; and that our similarities are far greater than our differences,” he told the gathering.