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True friendship between sister cities

Updated: Jun 11, 2019 By Yang Han China Daily Print
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By sharing stories in Seoul, neighbors deepen cooperation, communication

A friend in need is a friend indeed. And according to a South Korean mayor, this is an apt description of his city's relationship with South China's Guangzhou.

The reasons are far more than the close pronunciation of the name of Guangzhou and that of Gwangju.

"When Gwangju was preparing for the 2015 Summer Universiade, an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) occurred in South Korea and foreigners were kind of reluctant to visit our country," said Lee Yong-seop, mayor of Gwangju, the sixth-largest city in South Korea.

But the mayor of Guangzhou led a group that visited Gwangju, proving to the world that "Gwangju is a safe city", said Lee. "Thanks to this, the Summer Universiade was held successfully."

In return, the next year Gwangju sent a group of nearly 170 representatives from public and private sectors to Guangzhou, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their sister city relations through a variety of cultural activities. Guangzhou and Gwangju formed sister city relations in 1996.

There is also a road outside the Gwangju World Cup Stadium named after the Chinese city to commemorate China's participation in soccer's FIFA World Cup Finals tournament for the first time in 2002.

Lee was speaking on Monday in Seoul at a sharing event of China-South Korea friendly exchange stories. Organized by the Guangzhou Municipal Government Information Office, the event aimed to deepen the cooperation and communication between the two countries, while promoting mutual understanding among the people.

Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, is the third-largest city in China. Guangdong's GDP is estimated to exceed 10 trillion yuan ($1.45 trillion) this year.

About 15,000 athletes and officials from around 200 countries are expected in Gwangju for the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships during July 12-28. Lee said he hopes people from Guangzhou as well as across China can visit the city to watch the championships, while being immersed in the culture of Gwangju.

Company representatives from both China and South Korea told their cooperation stories at the event.

Son Young-jun, vice-president of South Korea's largest panel maker, LG Display, said the company has been investing in China since 2002. Today, LG Display has six plants in China, producing panels for a wide range of electronic products, from mobile phones and laptops to televisions.

"China is an important market for (the parent company) LG Group," said Son, noting the group's annual sales in China reached 250 billion won ($211 million) in 2018.

In Guangzhou, LG Display's footprint can be traced back to 2006. In July last year, it opened the company's first overseas organic light-emitting diode panel factory in Guangdong province with a total investment of $6.9 billion.

An artificial intelligence-based multilingual news anchor, developed by China's major AI company iFlytek, drew attention during the event. Wu Junhua, iFlytek's general manager of branding management, said the company formed a joint venture with leading South Korean software developer Hancom in March and is working together to launch a new portable translation device called Ginietalk Go soon.

During the event, a book fair was held showcasing the second volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China (Chinese and Korean versions) as well as books on Chinese language and culture.

A variety of traditional and modern Chinese and South Korean performances were also presented, including Pansori, a percussion instrument performance in South Korea; Cantonese Opera, one of the major branches of Chinese opera; Nanta, a Korean nonverbal comedy show; hip-hop dance featuring teams from both countries; as well as acrobatic shoulder ballet performed by award-winning Chinese dancers.

"When promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping has mentioned repeatedly that different countries should work and stick together in the times of difficulty... which means joint cooperation for future," said Mayor Lee. "I hope South Korea and China are not just neighbors in terms of geographical location, but can also become partners for win-win outcomes."

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