Press Release

June 27, 2000

Jubi Headley or Tony Iallonardo

(202) 293-7330

Chinese and U.S. Mayors Sign Historic Accord
Accord Signed in Sizhou Will Foster Improved Information Exchanges

Sizhou, China -- The United States Conference of Mayors and the China Association of Mayors signed an historic agreement today signaling their joint intentions to develop an on-going information exchange to foster urban development and environmental protection. The Memorandum of Cooperation signed by both associations will begin a period of cooperation whereby mayor-to-mayor and city-to-city conferences will be held, all aimed at improving both the human and urban condition.

Mayor Patrick J. McManus of Lynn, Mass. headed a five-mayor delegation to the 2nd Sino-US Mayors Conference on Urban Development and Cooperation. The mayors joining Mayor McManus include: James Garner, mayor of Hempstead, N.Y.; Patrick Henry Hays, mayor of North Little Rock, Ark.; Michael A. Guido, mayor of Dearborn, Mich.; and Gene Eriquez, mayor of Danbury, Conn.

Mayor McManus expressed to the Chinese mayors and officials that the challenges facing mayors all over the world are the same. He emphasized that only through cooperation can these two great nations realize a better world for their respective populations.

Madame Tao Siliang, secretary general of the China Association of Mayors indicated that signing the Memorandum of Cooperation with the U.S. Conference of Mayors was a symbolic act of great import for China. Madame Tao stated that the Chinese people and its leaders view American mayors as very strong because they deal directly with the issues that face the American people. She also stated that this delegation of U.S. mayors is historic because it is common for individual U.S. mayors to visit China, but never before has a delegation of U.S. mayors made such an important visit. Madame Tao was joined by other mayors of China's cities in seeking to continue such information exchanges. Plans are being developed for the 3rd Sino-US Mayors Conference for 2001.

The delegation traveled to Beijing, Xi'an, Suzhou and Shanghai. City-to-city seminars on urban development were held in Xi'an and Suzhou. Over three dozen officials from 12 major Chinese cities participated in the seminars. A major theme presented by the Chinese mayors was a discussion of the nationally supported initiative to develop western China, and opening up the area with preferential treatment to foreign investors. Chen Deming, mayor of Suzhou indicated that 70 of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies have already established a presence in Suzhou. He also stated that the huge growth in consumer demand for an increased standard of living requires that much more investment by the Western world will be required. He stated that many French, British, German and Scandinavian countries are strategically growing their presence in China.

The U.S. mayors listened to presentations by Chinese mayors as they discussed their plans for modernization of the economy. As the Chinese mayors identified challenges in providing housing, telecommunications, transportation, water and wastewater supply and waste management, they asked the U.S. mayors what steps they took to successfully provide these services and develop needed infrastructure. The U.S. mayors offered ideas stemming from their experience in their municipalities. One theme discussed at length was how to finance modernization of infrastructure. Representatives from both nations indicated that traditional public funding for infrastructure development can not meet the growing demands for new development of urban centers. All participants agreed that alternative infrastructure funding is necessary. While Chinese mayors indicated that they will continue to subsidize infrastructure projects they are also turning to the World Bank and other sources to fuel modernization. The area that all participants agreed to was the need to tap the private sector for capital investment, recognizing that public/private partnerships provide the right balance of investment risk and continued local public control of public purpose services and infrastructure.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors delegation was also invited to meet with Central Government officials in the China Ministry of Economics and Trade; the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the China Ministry of Construction. Of particular note, the U.S. delegation met with Mr. Chen Mingming, vice director, America and Oceana Department, China Minister of Foreign Affairs. This meeting took place in the same conference room where Chinese diplomats negotiated entry into the World Trade Organization. Chen reconfirmed the Chinese commitment to opening up its provinces to world trade as a means to improve the standard of living for the Chinese people.

The U. S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more.  There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today.  Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.