Duncan Sandeman, head of Civic & International Relations from Christchurch City Council, New Zealand, speaks at the conference Friday.
AT a conference Friday, 32 liaison officers from 16 of Shenzhen's friendship cities presented their thoughts on how to comprehensively enhance the bond between their city and Shenzhen as well as the understanding they gathered of Shenzhen's development from the four-day tour of the city.
Duncan Sandeman, head of Civic & International Relations from Christchurch City Council, New Zealand, was the leader of the delegation. He was the first to speak at the liaison conference and introduced New Zealand's educational, natural and tourism resources.
Sandeman said that the Christchurch City Council had been offering internship opportunities for Shenzhen government officials to work at the City Council for a period of time in order to bring new thoughts as well as gain experience.
China's Lantern Festival is also a key festival celebrated in the city of Christchurch, according to Sandeman. "Shenzhen has been providing lanterns to Christchurch for decoration on this special Chinese festival for years as gifts and we are glad to know that we will have 44 containers of lanterns from Shenzhen this year," said the Kiwi liaison officer at the conference.
Sandeman said that he hoped that cooperation between Christchurch and Shenzhen could be further developed and in many other areas such as trade, education, tourism and innovation.
Taylor Woodruff, chief of protocol in the City of Atlanta, the United States, and also an official from the Mayor's Office of International Affairs, said that Atlanta and Shenzhen have a lot in common as both cities are endeavoring to become international innovation hubs.
In 2016, Atlanta and its French sister city Toulouse launched the first Atlanta-Toulouse Startup Exchange aimed at providing selected companies a platform for global expansion. This "showcases Atlanta and Toulouse as economically sound choices for future international operations and we believe that the mode can also work between Atlanta and Shenzhen," said Woodruff.
The speech delivered by a Helsinki liaison officer, Henri Kahonen, echoed the Atlanta liaison officer's notion of cooperation in the area of innovation.
"Helsinki is home to many world-famous producers of games such as Angry Birds, so we have a supportive environment for innovative startups and we think that Helsinki can work as a test bed for Shenzhen companies and their new products and services," said Kahonen.
After the 16 liaison officers from countries including South Korea, Malaysia and Japan shared their thoughts, Tang Lixia, director-general of Shenzhen Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, gave the concluding speech. The office was the organizer of the tour and liaison conference.
"Through the introduction and experiences brought by the liaison officers today, I've gained a clear understanding that international cooperation departments in each friendship city are taking bigger roles to strengthen information exchange and better serve as a bridge for communication between the cities," said Tang.
The delegation of liaison officers visited a local school, library, companies and some other places to help the officers gain more knowledge about the city and explore further cooperation.
Shenzhen has built friendship-city relationships with 83 cities in 53 countries.