Fuzhou, China — The sister-province agreement between Cebu and Fujian will be formally signed within the year, strengthening economic and trade relations and tourism cooperation between the two provinces.
This was revealed by officials of the Fujian provincial government in a press briefing with visiting Philippine journalists on Saturday.
Li Lin, deputy director general of Fujian Provincial Foreign Affairs Office, said both provinces have signed a letter of intent last year for a sister-province agreement.
“Fujian and Cebu have a long-standing relation as there are many overseas Chinese living in Cebu. In 1984, the city of Xiamen signed a sister-city relationship with Cebu City. We have had active cultural exchanges for decades,” said Li.
“When the sister-province agreement is established, these people-to-people exchanges will surely increase,” added Lin.
Last March, a delegation from Fujian province came to Cebu for “Fujian Week,” which introduced Fujian to Cebu and promoted economic cooperation between the small and medium enterprises of the two provinces.
Li described the Fujian Week as a comprehensive activity that familiarized Filipinos about Fujian’s culture and heritage, arts and crafts, and economics and trade.
When formally signed, the sister-province agreement between Cebu and Fujian will be the third twin relations between Cebu and China’s provinces. Cebu has sister-province agreements with Guangdong and Hainan.
There are 1.68 million overseas Chinese living in the Philippines who trace their roots back to Fujian province.
Fuzhou and Xiamen (formerly known as Amoy) belong to Fujian province. Fuzhou is the province’s capital city.
The province is located in the southeastern coast of mainland China. Xiamen Air operates direct flights from Xiamen, Fuzhou and Quanzhou to Cebu. It takes three hours of air travel from these cities to Cebu.
Zhang Yanquan, director of the Fujian Provincial Development and Reform Commission, said private companies are looking at establishing partnerships with Philippine enterprises primarily in the fields of agriculture, mining and labor-intensive industries of textiles, garments and shoes.
With the Philippines’ aggressive infrastructure development push, Zhang said construction is another area of possible cooperation.
During the press briefing, Fujian provincial government officials said they have special ties with the Philippines because the Chinese province shares the same food, customs and weather with the Filipinos.
Lin said reaching out to the Philippines is not only about investments and joint ventures but also sharing the experiences they have accumulated over the years to their Filipino counterparts.
“Fujian and Philippines are only divided by the sea. We’d like to cooperate in areas where we have strengths,” said Lin.