Chongqing by Sam Gao
Have you ever noticed that some places in the world receive more attention around Toronto than others do? Let’s rephrase that: have you ever heard of Toronto’s sister cities?
The Concept of Sister Cities
The concept of twin towns and sister cities basically stands for the creation of close links with municipalities around the world (in a way) similar to Toronto in order to foster both cultural and economic ties. The idea became widespread, especially after WWII, as cities around the world wanted to manifest their reconciliation and will for peaceful cooperation in the future. Sister cities may discuss their problems or development policies together, cooperate on investment strategies, and form privileged business partnerships, or simply mutually support cultural events organized in their cities as well as exchange symbolic demonstrations of friendship (naming streets after their sister partners, offering honorary citizenships, and so forth).
Sister Cities of Toronto
Chongqing by Wilson Loo Kok Wee
Currently, Toronto shares links with nine other cities. Partner cities (which are chosen by the city staff and directed mainly toward economic cooperation) include: Chicago, USA; Chongqing, China; Frankfurt, Germany; and Milan, Italy. Friendship cities (which are proposed by one of Toronto’s communities and confirmed by Toronto City Council) are largely picked for cultural purposes and include: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Kiev, Ukraine; Quito, Ecuador; Sagamihara, Japan; and Warsaw, Poland. During the past years, sister cities have engaged notably in common talks about sustainability policies in urban areas and have shared their best practices in this field.
Today, I would like to introduce one of the privileged partner cities: Chongqing, a city in Southwest China with an estimated population of 31.4 million inhabitants. The city serves as the economic and cultural centre of the area, as it underwent a rapid transformation to become an urbanized, modern metropolis in recent years and its skyline could now bear comparison to any large North American city.
Concerning industry, Chongqing is home to China’s largest aluminum plant, producing over 213,000 tonnes of processed products and supplying innumerable companies. Other well-developed branches include mining, the steel industry, car production, and food and textile production.The rapid development has its tolls though, and every large Chinese city battles with the gap between the urban rich and the rural poor. Bill Schiller writes about this problem in his Star article.
Chongqing Skyline by Charles Ryan
However, the city is not only famous for being a business hot spot: it is also recognized as a distinguished tourist destination. During WWII, Chongqing was one of three headquarters of the Allies and still boasts many monuments and buildings from that time. In addition, there are various museums and memorials in the city’s downtown, although most of them may seem rather one-sided for a typical Westerner’s taste.
You may also get out of the city and discover some unique places in the surrounding area. The most visited place is the Dazu Rock Carvings, a series of religious sculptures and carvings dating back to the 7th century. If you feel like experiencing the might of the Communist party with your own eyes, make sure not to miss the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, the biggest dam in the world. You may access over 200km alongside the former canyon and grab your lunch of Chinese noodles in one of the stalls on its bank.