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      From St. Paul to Shaanxi: The History of our Sister Province

      Posted on June 15, 2012 at 12:49 PM

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      Minnesota’s relationship with China dates back to the 1870s, when the first Chinese immigrants traveled to the state. Over the decades, the bond between China and Minnesota has grown significantly and today Minnesota enjoys many sister-province and sister-city relationships, academic partnerships, business relationships, and cultural and humanitarian ties. On Friday, Governor Dayton’s delegation will travel to our sister state, the Province of Shaanxi, home of the famous terra cotta warriors, to meet with Governor Zhao and other Shaanxi Province officials and participate in a banquet for the delegation and celebrate the bond that has grown between our states.

      MN-Shaanxi Sister State Agreement.jpgSo, how did this great sister relationship begin?  Between 1979 and 1981, a dedicated group of US China Peoples Friendship Association Minnesota (USCPFA-MN) volunteers, spent countless hours to make this dream a reality.  Volunteers initially proposed the idea for a sister relationship to USCPFA-MN Chapter President, Fred Ptashne, who enthusiastically approved the idea. This was followed by an official trip to Shaanxi by a Minnesota delegation to meet with Vice Governor, LI Lian Bi to discuss details about creating the sister relationship. Minnesota Governor AlQuie and Shaanxi Governor Yu Mingtao formally signed the sister-province agreement at a ceremony in St. Paul, Minnesota. October 19, 2012, will officially mark the 30th Anniversary of our Sister-province relationship.

      blog_terracottawarriors.jpgMinnesota and Shaanxi have since developed strong goodwill through its relationship.  The cities share much in common - both are unique cultural centers, expanding industrial centers, important agricultural areas, and both have prestigious colleges and universities. Xian, in Shaanxi Province, was China’s capital for many dynasties, beginning with the first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, who unified China during his rule (246-210BC). The Terra Cotta Army Museum, built over the pits of clay soldiers & horses that were to guard Emperor Qin’s tomb. As part of a unique cultural exchange, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will host an exhibition of terra cotta warriors this fall, in the exhibit ‘China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy’.

      Sister relationships are important official links between governments. Minnesota has benefitted from our sister relationships by a heightened cultural awareness, better understanding of democracy abroad, and a rich education exchange. Economic benefits include increased tourism, heightened awareness of international affairs and the creation of reliable business and trade partners. The Dayton Administration is committed to strengthening our ties and fostering a positive business and cultural exchange with China through these relationships.