Peter Laviña

The ABCs (Activities, Beliefs and Campaigns) of City Councilor Peter Tiu Laviña of Davao City, Philippines. This blog started on March 9, 2006.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Davao inroad into China

Last year, Davao City received a proposal from our Consul-General in Guangzhou for a possible sister-city agreement with Nanning, in Guanxi, China.

Nanning was somehow remote to us so there was an initial apparent lack of interest. Nanjing, near Shanghai, and Guangzhou and Xiamen, where many Chinoys traced their roots, were better known.

Last month, Vice Mayor Luis Bonguyan informed members of the City Council to prepare for the possible visit of the Nanning Mayor.

Little did we know how serious the Chinese were until last March 7. We had two Nanning visitors who just flew in for a few hours and then jetted back to Manila to catch the following flight to Brunei and then Singapore. They gave the info that Mayor Lin Guoqiang will be in Davao to sign the Letter of Intent for a sister-city pact on March 29.

We learned from them that China designated Nanning as the permanent site of the China-ASEAN Trade Expo, which started two years ago to promote trade and investments between China and the 10-nation ASEAN.

Nanning is located in the southern part of Guanxi Province, in the southernmost region of the China, which borders ASEAN country Vietnam. Known as the “South Gate of China,” Nanning’s 20-year development plan, coinciding with the implementation of China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, seeks to develop this tropical city, similar to Davao, as the “Green City of China.”

It boasts of one of the largest herbal gardens in probably the world, a 20 hectare landscape featuring over 1,000 plants, herbs and medicinal trees.

We realized then the significance of the Davao-Nanning ties. Davao is the southern gateway of the Philippines, and de facto seat of the BIMP-EAGA, while China is developing Nanning as its southern link to the ASEAN.

The similarities in the rich agricultural and natural resources of the two cities were also apparent apart from the fact that both cities were vying as tourism and convention destinations in their respective regions.

Nanning now boasts of two air links with the ASEAN with direct flights to Hanoi and Bangkok. It has also flights to Hong Kong in addition to many destinations in China. Davao, on the other hand, has links to Singapore, Manado, and Palau, and a number of cities in the country.

Davao has sister city pacts with Keelung, Taiwan, Manado & Bitung, Indonesia, and Tacoma, near Seattle, USA. Nanning, on the other hand, has sister links with Akita, Japan, Somogy, Hungary, Christchurch, New Zealand, and Oklahoma, USA.

China plans to use Nanning as it inroad into the ASEAN; Davao can certainly use Nanning as its door to China. The sister-city ties could boost the two cities preeminent positions in their own countries and sub-regions.

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