On Monday, September 10th Columbia, Maryland and Liyang, China officially joined together as sister cities. During a Ceremony at Historic Oakland in Columbia, the agreement was signed between Liyang Mayor Huaqin Xu and Columbia Association President Milton W. Mathews.
Liyang is the 5th sister city of the community of Columbia, Maryland and the 3rd Chinese sister city for the state. The hope of this new collaboration is to facilitate greater cultural exchange and engagement between the two communities.
In April — in anticipation of the new addition to the family — the Mall in Columbia, Maryland hosted an afternoon of music and performances highlighting all of Columbia’s sister cities including Liyang.
Columbia, Maryland offers its residents International exchange programs to sister cities, and will soon include exchanges to Liyang.
In addition to cultural exchanges, the new relationship presents the opportunity for economic development and tourism promotion. In 2016 Chinese tourists spent $626 million in the state of Maryland. Xu believes the two communities “share a philosophy of trust and friendship and that communication and exchange build the foundation for that friendship.”
Columbia searched for four years and considered eight different cities in China before settling on Liyang. The approximately 8,000 member Chinese-American Community in Howard County was responsible for initially proposing to the Columbia Association to partner with a Chinese sister city. The cities were well-matched in their shared values and similar industries. Liyang is an innovator in education and Columbia has high standards for education. Furthermore, Liyang is a national model city in environmental protection and Columbia is dedicated to the preservation of green spaces.
There is great opportunity for this sister city relationship to blossom in the years to come.