San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng Sign Memorandum of Understanding Renewing Sister City Relationship

Yesterday’s signing renews a strong Sister City relationship between the U.S. and China that was established 45 years ago
May 22, 2024

San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed yesterday welcomed Mayor Gong Zheng and a Shanghai delegation to City Hall to celebrate the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between both cities as part of the 45th anniversary of the San Francisco Shanghai Sister City Relationship. Dating back to 1979, San Francisco led the nation by establishing the first-ever diplomatic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, ushered by then Mayor Dianne Feinstein.  

During yesterday’s visit, both Mayors signed the Sister City agreement to reemphasize the commitments between San Francisco and Shanghai, and to advance mutually beneficial economic opportunities and cultural exchange efforts, including exploring possibilities for student exchange programs and tourism promotion.  

Shanghai Mayor Gong and his delegation’s visit to San Francisco comes on the heels of Mayor Breeds’ trip to China in April, when she led a San Francisco delegation on a multi-city visit throughout China, including Shanghai. The purpose of the Mayor’s trip focused on cultivating tourism and economic growth opportunities and bolstering diplomatic relations to strengthen cultural ties across the region in China.

“As the gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, San Francisco has a rich history with deeply rooted cultural ties to Chinese and Chinese American cultures. By signing this agreement, we are honoring the heritage of many in our City and reemphasizing the importance of cultural exchanges that San Francisco remains committed to as we advance partnerships from around the world,” said Mayor London Breed. “When our San Francisco delegation visited Shanghai, Mayor Gong, residents, and leaders extended genuine hospitality and we look forward to having the opportunity to extend the same in return as we work together to strengthen the ties between the two cities.”

“Shanghai and San Francisco have jointly signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on friendly exchange and cooperation,” said Mayor Gong Zheng. “Heralding a new phase of practical collaboration between the two cities. We see this as an opportunity to further strengthen cooperation with San Francisco in areas such as technology, innovation, mutual investment, and urban governance. Additionally, we aim to advance youth exchanges between the two cities, fostering a higher level of mutually beneficial development."

Over the years, the San Francisco Shanghai Sister City partnership has seen more than 200 collaborative projects across various sectors. Notable events include "Shanghai Week in SF" and "SF Week in Shanghai." The relationship has also facilitated interactions with future Chinese leaders and played a key role in San Francisco's participation in the Shanghai Expo 2010.

In addition to the Shanghai delegation, among those present at yesterday’s event were members of the recent San Francisco delegation to China, and San Francisco’s Chinese community leaders who seized the opportunity to welcome and greet one another at a reception hosted by Mayor Breed and Chief of Protocol Maryam Muduroglu.

“The signing of this momentous Memorandum of Understanding further strengthens the two sister cities' future of mutual growth, cultural exchange, and business collaboration,” said Daphne Fang, Chair of the San Francisco Sister City Committee. “The participation of San Francisco high school youth in Friendship summer camps in Shanghai will enhance cultural understanding and friendship, echoing across borders and generations. The San Francisco - Shanghai Sister City Committee will continue our dedication and unwavering commitment to fostering the enduring relationship between our two greatest cities.”

“Shanghai and San Francisco are pivotal cities in establishing Sister City relations between China and the United States,” said Zhang Jianmin, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco. “Effective cooperation across various fields has consistently placed them at the forefront of efforts to develop China-U.S relations. The mutual visits of the two mayors within a span of less than two months are a concrete implementation of the important consensus reached during the China-U.S. leaders' meeting in San Francisco, advancing the "San Francisco Vision" into tangible actions. It is believed that this visit will further promote local exchanges and cooperation, making positive contributions to the stable, healthy, and sustainable development of China-US relations.”

This Sister City relationship, founded during Mayor Dianne Feinstein's tenure, followed the normalization of U.S.- China diplomatic relations in the late 1970s. Feinstein led a delegation to Beijing and Shanghai, where she and then Shanghai Mayor, Wang Daohan, agreed on the establishment of this long-lasting relationship. The formal agreement was signed in early 1980, following U.S. President Carter's announcement of official diplomatic ties.

In July, 10 high school students from across San Francisco will participate in summer educational exchanges in Shanghai to promote friendship and foster cross-cultural understanding between the two cities.