Garden, schools reflect sister city relationship between Chongqing, Seattle

(Xinhua) 10:08, May 31, 2024

CHONGQING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- June 3 marks the 41st anniversary of the sister city relationship between China's Chongqing and Seattle in the United States. The Seattle Chinese Garden is an epitome of the deep bond between the two cities.

"The name, design, and construction of the garden all reflect the friendly ties between Chongqing and Seattle," said Shen Jinqiang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Chongqing Municipal People's Congress.

Chongqing and Seattle became sister cities in 1983. Five years later, they decided to commemorate the friendship by building a Chongqing-style garden in Seattle.

However, construction of this garden, which took over 20 years to complete, was far from easy.

"One of the reasons why it took so long was the great difficulty in trying to define what a Chongqing-style garden actually was," said James Dawson, who is president of the Seattle Chinese Garden and also an architect.

"At that time, there was very little information available, so the team did a lot of research. We went to outer regions of Sichuan Province (which once administered Chongqing) and also brought in experts to try to identify what the elements were that really made a Chongqing-style garden, because we wanted it to be authentic," he explained, while adding that they even transported materials from Chongqing to Seattle.

Once the garden opened to the public in 2011, it started to serve as a platform for Americans to learn about China.

Later, more Chinese elements such as calligraphy and tea parties were added, while celebrations related to the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival and Dragon Boat Festival, as well as people-to-people exchanges, were also held there.

"We truly see it as a bridge of friendship and understanding between our two peoples and our two communities," said Dan Strauss, who is a member of the Seattle City Council.

The Seattle Chinese Garden remains the only Chongqing-style garden located outside China. The garden covers an area of about 2.89 hectares, with several Chinese-style yards in the south, a waterscape in the north, and a stream and pavilion in the middle.

Over the years, the two cities have also deepened their relations through exchanges and cooperation in fields such as economy and trade, and education and culture.

The Nankai Secondary School of Chongqing has formed a sister school relationship with a school in Seattle. Every year they send exchange students to each other. Some students have even become cultural and friendship ambassadors promoting the ties between these two cities.

Du Mengfei, 21, is enrolled at the University of Washington, Seattle, having earlier graduated from Nankai Secondary School in Chongqing. Once a member of the folk music ensemble at her school in Chongqing, Du has introduced Chinese music to various events in Seattle over the past few years, thereby promoting traditional Chinese music to audiences there.

"I hope that more students from Chongqing like me will come to this beautiful city and continue to build bridges of cultural exchange between the two cities and establish more precious friendships," Du said.

"No matter how the international situation changes, I believe that Chongqing and Seattle will continue to work together to expand and deepen existing cooperation and constantly explore new cooperation space," said Shen.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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