There is a Chinese saying that friendship is higher than mountain, and 20 years of friendship that has blossomed across seas, cultures and languages is being honoured this month by the Sunshine Coast Council and its Sister City of Xiamen in China.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of a Sister City Friendship Charter between the Sunshine Coast Council (and the former Maroochy Shire Council) and the Xiamen Municipal Government.
Community and environment portfolio holder Councillor Jenny McKay, and a delegation of Sunshine Coast artists will visit Xiamen this week to celebrate the deep and long-lasting friendship that has grown over the past two decades.
Cr McKay is an honorary citizen of the Chinese province of Fujian where Xiamen is located and has helped foster the bilateral relationship.
“I have witnessed the growth of the bilateral relationship with Xiamen and I look forward to expanding and strengthening our bilateral links,” Cr McKay said.
“The relationship is underpinned, of course, by the formal government-to-government relationships at the city level. In some ways, our engagement with Xiamen really is a model of complementarity or what the Chinese like to call a ‘win-win’ relationship.”
A captivating hand-blown and cast glass work titled First There is a Mountain, by Sunshine Coast artist Marc Kalifa, of Maleny, will be presented to the Xiamen Municipal Government to mark the milestone.
Cr McKay said the shape of the sand glass sculpture reflected the Glass House Mountains in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and was beautifully highlighted by a light box made from red ironbark, one of four species of the Eucalyptus genus of Australian native gum trees.
“The sculpture of the Glass House Mountains on the Sunshine Coast represents the coastal elements of our two cities and the cycle of life, and beautifully matches the Chinese saying that friendship is higher than mountain,” she said.
“The business community is also a crucially important element in the relationship. Business people create and maintain a network of company-to-company and people-to-people partnerships that drive trade and investment between our Sunshine Coast region and Xiamen, creating mutual benefit for the people of both cities.”
The delegation will also attend the China International Fair for Investment (CIFIT) and Trade from 8-11 September. Attendees from more than 100 countries and regions are expected to take part in the key international investment and business event.
The Sunshine Coast delegation will continue to develop a deeper cultural understanding through participation in the Hegsheng Village homestay program and will also view the Xiamen Photography exhibition, which features Sunshine Coast photographs and artworks.
Sunshine Coast hosted soccer students from Xiamen No. 2 Middle School last month who visited the region for the first time as part of the reciprocal Youth Football Cultural Exchange Program.