Tulsa County Signs China Sister County Agreement


DIPLOMACY ABROAD: Tulsa County and the County of Qiyang of Hunan, China have declared each other to be sister counties. After the ceremony are from left, James Yang, Com. Karen Keith, Com. Fred Perry, Gov. Changming Zhang, Com. John Smaligo and Lt. Gov. Jianmin  Li.

DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers

In July Tulsa County made history when the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners launched Tulsa County as the first county in Oklahoma to enter into a Sister County Agreement with a foreign county government.

Beginning last October, Tulsa County received a letter of intent from Qiyang County of Hunan Province of China to establish a Sister County Agreement. With the assistance of James Yang, chairman and of Lionax International Investment Holding and Bradley Miller, president and of Venditio Capital Group, five officials from Qiyang County, including Changming Zhang Governor of Qiyang County, came to Tulsa to finalize the Sister County Agreement.

Qiyang County is an ancient and mysterious land with more than 1,700 years of history. The county has a population of more than one million people. It is known for their world famous Hunan food, Qiyang opera and beautiful countryside with rich ore and natural resources. It is considered a holy land and a great place for economic development and investment.

In the letter of intent, Governor Zhang said, “We believe that, after the close relationship is established, it will promote communications, improve friendship, strengthen the economic cooperation and realize a win-win situation for both counties.”

During the signing ceremony, Commission Chairman John Smaligo stated to the Governor: “We envision a growing awareness and appreciation of each other’s culture and people. We hope this partnership will continue for many generations, fostering educational, economic and professional exchanges. We look forward to the limitless possibilities of this relationship.”

The Sister County Agreement, signed by the Governor and Commissioners Smaligo, Fred Perry and Karen Keith, states: “This Sister County Agreement is hereby established for the following purposes:

1. To promote and expand the effective and mutually beneficial cooperation between the people of Tulsa County and the people of Qiyang County.
2. To promote international goodwill, understanding, and economic and trade relations.
3. To foster and encourage charitable, scientific, trade and commerce, literary and educational activities between the two counties.

Now in the planning stages will be a visit by Tulsa County officials and others to Qiyang County in 2010 to lay the ground work so that both counties can realize the true meaning and spirit of the agreement.

One of the main areas of interest to the Qiyang government is industrial development in their county. Qiyang is willing to set aside land and reserve it in Tulsa County’s name for any Tulsa or Oklahoma business that wants to manufacture in Qiyang. The land would be free and average construction costs are running less than $15 per square foot and the government is willing to help with infrastructure. In addition, the governor of Qiyang is willing to set up a county government team to walk any Tulsa industrial leaders through the education and logistics process.

The potential for business and government leaders in both counties is far reaching and thanks to the Tulsa County Commissioners, this new Sister County relationship should pay dividends for many years.

Terry A. Simonson is Director of Development and Governmental Affairs for Tulsa County.

Updated 09-17-2009

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