Concerns over 'neglected' Chinese sister city relationship
IT'S a branch of the family tree that Cairns cannot afford to break. Concerns have been raised that Cairns is neglecting its relationship with a sister city in southern China, just as strong ties with Asia become crucial to the Far North's future.
Cairns Regional Council has had a formal tie with Zhanjiang since 2004, but a regular guest of the local council over there fears Cairns could be dumped as a sister city if the family bond isn't strengthened soon.
"It's a very poor relationship and the yin and yang of Chinese culture isn't there - Zhanjiang give a lot but doesn't get much of a reception in return," said Kim Morris, who will travel to Zhanjiang this month.
Zhanjiang is in southern China and is about 2100km south of Beijing.
Mr Morris, who is also a gardening columnist for cairnseye, was tasked by the former Cairns council to design a 37ha community garden in Zhanjiang in 2004, to help forge the cities' new sisterhood. The garden opened in 2007 and Mr Morris has since visited the city several times.
"They pick you up from the airport, they take you wherever you need to go and make sure you're looked after," Mr Morris said.
"It's one of the most strategic sister cities we have - there are nearly seven million people there and it's a market that should be tapped."
He believes Cairns needs to try harder as a sister city because Zhanjiang has hintedit wants a more active sibling.
Long-time sister city proponent Sim Haywood said it would be a good time to invite the Zhanjiang Mayor Wang Zhongbing to boost ties.
CRC has not had an indication that Zhanjiang wants to back out of the sister city arrangement, but is reviewing the way it deals with its foreign siblings.
"It's mostly been a cultural exchange, but there's an intent with the new sister cities committee that we do more in the economic area," council general manager of community, sports and cultural services Ian Lowth said.
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Neglected: Concerns have been raised that Cairns is neglecting its relationship with Chinese sister city, Zhanjiang, in the lead up to the commencement of direct flights from China. Picture: CCTV.com.