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Speech by Salote Lupepauu Tuita at China International Friendship Cities Conference

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Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m very pleased to be invited to visit Chengdu, the city known as the hometown to panda, and to appreciate its beautiful natural scenery as well as its dynamic city development. It also gives me great pleasure and honor to speak at the 2012 China International Friendship Cities Conference, and to share my view on sister city relationship with all of you.

As I understand it and you may all agree, many global issues we face with today, such as providing quality education and health services; ensuring adequate financial resources to enable national development; and assisting citizens to achieve their economic and social aspirations, are common challenges which require a collective solution. People across the borders need to share and communicate with, and learn from each others in tackling these problems. This makes today’s sister city relations all the more important, because it provides us with an effective tools and channel to build friendship and conduct cooperation in this increasingly competitive and shrinking world.

Sister City arrangements can reach all parts of the community. It brings the opportunity of changing lives and making a better tomorrow for us all through sharing resources and knowledge. Through sister city links, cities or provinces around the world may find a practical means to strengthen economic cooperation, deepen cultural understanding, and to strive for long term sustainable partnership. Most importantly, it is a model for allowing individuals and communities to take active participation in deciding the development of their community and creating a brighter future for their children.

As for the Kingdom of Tonga, a developing country in the South Pacific, we consider sister city relations an important bridge through which we can connect with other parts of the globe across the ocean  and conduct win-win cooperation with our counterparts and friends in tourism, agriculture and fishery, and attract more foreign investment to Tonga.

Last but not least, I wish the conference a great success, and that all of us participating today may fully utilize this opportunity to exchange ideas and share views, and to make our own contribution to the development of sister cities movement. Thank you very much, our gracious host, Youxie, it is great to be here amongst our friends from around the world.

Thank you.

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