Tianjin, Fujian and Oregon seeking to enhance cooperation

2021-12-09 chinadaily.com.cn Editor:Zhao Li

Aerial photo shows a container vessel sailing into Tianjin Port in North China's Tianjin, Feb 22, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)

Chinese officials from Tianjin municipality and Fujian province joined their counterparts from the U.S. state of Oregon this week to discuss subnational cooperation amid ongoing tension between the U.S. and China.

Delegates from the three regions, which have enjoyed decades of sister-state relations, went over collaboration opportunities in ports, technologies, higher education and grassroots NGOs, as well as national parks.

The focus of the discussion on Tuesday evening was climate change, which has been highlighted by leaders of China and the U.S. as a key area where the two countries' interests overlap.

Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Wang Donghua noted that in 2021, parts of the U.S., including Oregon, were affected by the worst ice storm in decades as well as raging wildfires, while severe flooding and typhoons took place in some areas of China.

"Frequent occurrence of extreme weather has reminded us time again that a climate crisis is real, and the international community must accelerate the pace of actions to combat climate change through cooperation," Wang said.

The concept of "green and low carbon development" has become a consensus in the entire Chinese society, he said, adding that China has curbed its carbon intensity by 48.4 percent over the last 15 years and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 5.8 billion tons.

"China and the U.S. relationship today has developed into one that is characterized by the broadest range of common interests, the wildest scope of cooperation and the highest level of interconnection," he said.

The importance of China-U.S. relations goes far beyond a bilateral scope, as the two countries share common responsibilities in addressing almost all issues concerning world peace and development, Wang said.

He said that China and Oregon have deepened their cooperation in climate change over the years, and as sister state and province, Tianjin and Fujian have conducted dialogue and exchanges in green development with Oregon.

"The partnership between China and Oregon can be considered as a model of cooperation between China and the U.S.," the consul general said.

In a prerecorded video, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, highlighted the close economic ties, cultural exchange and the shared concerns of environmental challenges between China and Oregon.

As an example of the mutual commitment to safeguard natural resources, he brought up the sister-park relationship between Wuyishan National Park in northern Fujian and Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, which was signed in February 2016.

"We need to replicate that partnership on a much wider scale when it comes to tackling climate change. Residents in Oregon have faced deadly winter storms, floods, wildfires and heat waves, not unlike what's happened in China," he added.

Unless the world makes "big changes", extreme climate disasters are only going to get worse and put more lives at risk, Blumenauer said.

"We also understand that meeting the climate crisis is a monumental task that no country can achieve alone. That makes partnership like the one that you formed through the Oregon-China Council especially critical to keeping our communities safe and healthy," he said.

Fujian province and Oregon have been sister states since Sept 25, 1984. The provincial city of Tianjin established a sister-state relationship with Oregon in 2014.

China has been Oregon's largest export market. Oregon exported goods worth $9.3 billion to China last year, up from $7.2 billion in 2019, according to business data platform Statista.

Jorge Casimiro, vice-president and chief public policy and social impact officer at Nike, headquartered in Oregon, told attendees of the webinar that the multinational corporation marks its 40th anniversary in China this year.

"We value and we appreciate our deep relationship with the Chinese people," he said, noting that the company has partnered with China's Ministry of Education to invest in sustainable community solutions, such as building community play spaces using recycled Nike materials.

Huang Zhiqun, vice-president of the Academy of Carbon Neutrality at Fujian Normal University, spoke about the institute's work to increase carbon sequestration by improving forests in Fujian.

Fujian plans to replace 0.67 million hectares of monoculture pine plantations, which is susceptible to fire and insects, in the next five years, Huang said, adding that the school's research has found that diverse tree species may increase soil carbon stock by 14 percent in forests.

Huang said he hopes to develop pragmatic cooperation with scholars in Oregon to enhance carbon sequestration and increase biodiversity.

A number of attendees expressed similar sentiments that subnational cooperation will continue to play a vital role in fostering exchange between China and the U.S..

"Although we may find ourselves at times at odds with one another at the national level, we have so much in common and are bound to one another in the defense of our planet and the legacy that we will leave to our children and our grandchildren," said Oregon state Senator Michael Dembrow.

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