An attendee shows panda decorations she gets at an event promoting southwest China's city of Chengdu in the southern U.S. city of Austin, March 8, 2019. China's Chengdu City held a promoting event on Friday on the sidelines of the 10-day South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals to introduce the city and seek cooperation opportunities. [Photo/Xinhua]
How can Chinese city of Chengdu and U.S. city of Austin, nearly 13,000 km apart, forge a bond?
Aside from the fact that they are both located in the southwest of their respective countries and have nurtured people fond of spicy food, the two cities, perhaps surprising to many, share a zeal for innovation.
Chengdu and Austin are now seriously considering teaming up to tap opportunities that are already there or wait to be created while working toward the establishment of a formal relationship.
"The cities of Austin and Chengdu have so much in common," Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, U.S. state of Texas, said at an event promoting Chengdu.
"Chengdu is a very fast growing city in China, and Austin of Texas is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States. Chengdu is a city full of innovation and high technology, a city that is really growing, as is Austin," Adler said.
Austin is home to 46 incubators and has attracted a great many tech companies, including Apple, Samsung, IBM and Amazon, said David Colligan, manager of Global Business Expansion at the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
Chengdu, at the same time, is striving to build itself into a "city of innovation," with a goal of increasing the added value of cultural and creative industries to 180 billion yuan (26.8 billion U.S. dollars), or about 10 percent of the city's GDP, according to Zhang Yingming, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the Chengdu Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Hailing Austin and Chengdu as "forward-looking cities," and "cities that are technology and innovation centers," Adler saw ample possibilities for an upgrade of their relations.
"Conversations and meetings like this will lead to science city, friendship city kinds of relationship. That is in our future. I think there are going to be lots of different kinds of relationships," he said.
By strengthening the ties between the two innovation-driven cities, a win-win scenario will be created, Chinese Consul General in Houston Li Qiangmin said at the promotion event.
The event was held on the sidelines of the 10-day South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals, a platform that gathers innovators and entrepreneurs from across the globe to breed and fund novel ideas.
A Chinese delegation of more than 100 people, twice the size of that last year, showed up at SXSW 2019 that opened Friday, comprising those from Chengdu and companies like China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
We came to "inspire others and get inspired by others," said Shanying Leung, design director of Alibaba's online payment platform Alipay.
"The delegations from China are a very significant part of what makes SXSW very special, and the delegation from Chengdu is the largest ever we've received from a Chinese city," the Austin mayor said.
"Chinese delegations are now creating quite a storm, quite an excitement just because of the size of the delegations," he added.