Gov. Dave Heineman and his delegation ushered in a new era of Nebraska and China relations today in Xi'an, the capital city of the Shaanxi Provence. After years of economic development efforts, educational exchange and cross-cultural exchange, Gov. Heineman and Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao signed a letter of intent to form a Sister-State or "twinning" relationship between the two states.
"This is a momentous day for Nebraska and China relations," said Gov. Heineman. "Formalizing the already strong relationship between the heartland of the United States and the heartland of China will pay dividends as we continue pursuing a mutually beneficial relationship."
An inland province with a strong agricultural industry and rich history, Shaanxi and Nebraska share many similarities and relationships. Geographically, Shaanxi is near the center of China; economically, Shaanxi is a strong province that has rapidly grown its economic ties with the U.S. during the last ten years.
Nebraska's first Chinese investment came from Easyway International, located in Shaanxi Province and was a result of the 2008 Reverse Trade Mission. In addition to economic and geographic similarities, Nebraska and Shaanxi also share numerous educational and cultural ties. The letter instructs the Department of Economic Development and Sister-State Division of Shaanxi Provincial Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries to implement the formal relationship.
In April, 2012, the University of Nebraska and China's Xi'an Jiao Tong University celebrated the official opening of the American Exchange Center, a University of Nebraska initiative that aims to expose Chinese students and faculty to U.S. history, law, medicine, art, culture, and government, and strengthen Nebraska's collaboration with China.
Xi'an Jiao Tong University provides support for the University of Nebraska - Lincoln's Confucius Institute, a non-profit public institute with a mission of promoting and teaching Chinese language and culture in Lincoln and the state of Nebraska. The Chinese Ministry of Education fund the Confucius Institutes to promote friendly relationships with other countries; enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture among world Chinese learners; and provide a good environment for learning. Each Confucius Institute has a partner university in China. UNL's institute's partner is Xi'an Jiao Tong University. Teachers from Xi'an Jiao Tong University help staff and teach at the UNL center.
Prior to the signing, the Governor and the delegation started their time in Xi'an at Xi'an Jiao Tong University where the Governor and trade mission participants attended scheduled meetings and visited the recently-opened American Exchange Center.
During the visit, Gov. Heineman was briefed on UNMC and Xi'an Jiao Tong University School of Medicine's a one-of-a-kind training center for family practice physicians in China.
After the visit to Jiao Tong University, the delegation visited Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao, where the governors signed the letter of intent. After the signing ceremony, the delegation was welcomed at a banquet held in their honor by Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao.
The banquet included numerous Shaanxi companies that are considering investing in the United States. Gov. Heineman presented an overview of advantages that Nebraska has to offer such Chinese companies.
Gov. Heineman is in China on the second leg of a trade mission that will also travel to Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai.