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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Chamber Officials Set Up ‘Sister City’ Arrangement with Lijiang in China


Malibu Chamber of Commerce CEO Rebekah Evans announced last week at a chamber function and again at a Malibu City Council meeting this week that a chamber delegation traveled to China to initiate making Lijiang a sister city.
A press release from a Chinese news agency reported the two cities Malibu and Lijiang became sister cities during the Malibu delegation’s five-day stay.
Evans called that information a bit premature, stating the process requires city council approval.
She told council members on Monday night about the trip during a presentation on the role of the chamber in the community.
The chamber delegation brought back gifts for the council, including a ceremonial plate, book and key to Lijiang.
The city had apparently already agreed that the chamber would initiate sister city status for Malibu.
Mayor John Sibert said the trip “was rather a quick opportunity” and added. “[Lijiang] has a strong relationship with Pepperdine. There is a great oppournity for Malibu for education and tourism.”
In an earlier interview, Evans talked about some of the details of the trip.
She said, “We had started a committee in May with now Mayor John Sibert,” exploring the benefits of sister cities.
The city council had already agreed to join an organization that acts as a matchmaker for cities, but never voted for a sister city.
Evans said the Chinese may gotten ahead of themselves with the announcement of sister city status during the delegation’s trip, which was paid for by the Chinese local government, although the news release is accompanied by a photograph of the ceremony ostensibly setting up the relationship.
“Yes, they even called me the Malibu [City] CEO,” recalled Evans with laughter.
Evans said that a key objective is to bring Chinese visitors to Malibu and offer Malibuites deals on travel to China.
“We are still looking at starting a foundation. We are looking at maybe regional sister cities,” she added.
“Sibert could not go, so he asked me to go on his behalf,” added Evans. Then the chamber learned two trips were covered, and, since the group’s chair of the chamber could not go, board member Don Schmitz filled in.
“We were there for five days. We were treated to VIP status. We toured the countryside,” she said.
So how did Malibu get on the receiving end of this particular courtship? Part of the reason, said Evans, is that one of the wealthy citizens of Lijiang has had an interest in Malibu since her daughter went to school at Pepperdine.
The Chinese news agency photo of the sister city ‘signing ceremony’ also shows that it was attended by the vice mayor of Lijiang, who said that the establishment of a sister city relationship will promote the regional economy and development of the two cities.
According to the letter of intent, the news agency reported that the municipalities’ cooperation will cover the following fields: economy, trade, science and technology, tourism, education, sports and health.

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