Mayor Zhang Guiwei of the Lanshan District of Rizhao, China and Mayor Peter Long of the City of Karratha have officially signed a Sister City agreement focused on trade, education and the promotion of cultural links.
The signing marked the first twinning of the City of Karratha since attaining City Status earlier this year.
Mayor Zhang and the delegation from Rizhao attended high level meetings with industry stakeholders in Perth and will today tour the City of Karratha.
Planning the first programs to be run under the Sister City agreement are already underway with teacher and student exchanges now being prepared for early 2015.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the occasion was a significant milestone for the City and its long-standing relationship with China.
“As a key export region of Australia, we have always had strong international links, however this marks our first ever bilateral relationship at local government level,” Cr Long said.
“The recent growth of our City has come in large part through trade and investment with China and this agreement positions us to continue this prosperous relationship into the future,” he said.
“Lanshan District, Rizhao is a strategically significant area for the City of Karratha as the home of the largest iron ore import terminal in China. It is a growing city and this relationship will allow us to explore new areas for trade, investment and tourism.”
Lanshan District has a population of approximately 400,000 and is close to Rizhao Port and Landbridge Port, two key strategic ports for Northern China.
Rizhao Port is planning for the construction of a liquefied natural gas import terminal opening the possibility for the export of LNG from Western Australia.
Students and the education sector will be the first to benefit from the Sister City agreement with discussions taking place between Rizhao Polytechnic and the Pilbara Institute to co-operate and develop student exchange programs.
The relationship will also open the possibility for high school students to participate in exchange programs with China.
“With new investments like Baosteel’s recent acquisition of Aquila in conjunction with Aurizon, it is important that we create strong international relationships with our trading partners,” Cr Long said.
“As important as this is for our economic future, I am pleased that we will establish strong cultural links with Lanshan and also open up new opportunities for our school students to experience China.”