The City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) and Harbin in China have agreed to work together in uplifting their socio-economic profiles.
The two cities, who already have a memorandum of understanding, met at the Germiston headquarters of the CoE, where they agreed the time for action on their long-standing agreement was now.
This part of the plan will be realised on the back of a working programme, which is in the process of being developed.
Both have agreed to cooperate in the following fields: education, tourism, investment, urban management and city planning, and culture.
“Our city is on the verge of rolling out a spatial framework that will make us compatible and liveable with easy access to work opportunities,” said Clr Dora Mlambo, Ekurhuleni MMC for sport, heritage, recreation, arts and culture.
“We are also eagerly looking forward to working with Harbin in the education space so we can develop an exchange programme that will allow both cities to benchmark against each other and share best practice.
“We’re also extremely keen to learn how to use tourism and culture for effective social cohesion and to create wealth.”
In response, leader of the Harbin delegation Jiang Gouwen lamented the time already wasted to realise the memorandum of understanding, but committed to changing the status quo.
He gave an undertaking that the City of Harbin will be revisiting all the focus areas of the agreement and urgently revert back with ways to actualise them, adding that Ekurhuleni was his city’s leading sister city in Africa and that China’s consular general fully supports the relationship.
Gouwen extended an invitation to Ekurhuleni for the Ice Festival in 2019, a platform which will be used to celebrate Harbin’s first international twinning.
The event will also be used to discuss ways of making Harbin’s sisterhoods work better.
“This friendship needs a stronger bond, hence the need for visitations. If relatives do not visit each other, they become strangers,” Mlambo added.