For more than 40 years, the Minnesota Chapter of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association (USCPFA-MN) has ambitiously pursued its mission of building mutual understanding and friendship between the people of China and the United States. The USCPFA-MN has contributed to three key sister relationships between the United States and China: the province-state relationship between Minnesota and Shaanxi Province in 1982, sister city relationship between Minneapolis and Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in 1992, and sister city relationship between St. Paul and Changsha, Hunan Province in 1988. Every summer the USCPFA-MN participates in the Minneapolis Sister City Festivities at the Nicollet Island Pavilion to celebrate one of Minneapolis’ oldest sister relationship: the Minneapolis – Harbin relationship. The USCPFA-MN started the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society, helping to promote and sponsor the construction of the St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden. Please see specific events cultivating friendship over the years:
1. Minneapolis - Harbin Sister Relationship
- In January 2012, the USCPFA-MN delegation attended Consultative Conference on Establishing World Cities’ Ice and Snow Tourism Council and International Ice & Snow Festival in celebration of 20 year anniversary of sister city relationship.
- In July and August of 2014, the USCPFA-MN sponsored the St. Anthony Brass Quintet to perform at the prestigious biennial Harbin Summer Music Festival upon invitation from the sister city of Harbin. During its trip in China, the St. Anthony Brass Quintet performed in Beijing, Xi’an, and Harbin.
- In January 2015, the USCPFA-MN traveled to Harbin with the then-serving Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. Harbin became the first sister city of Minneapolis, among other 11 in the world, that Mayor Hodges had visited since taking office. Mayor Hodges and the USCPFA-MN delegation visited the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival and she spoke at the International Cold Zone Forum.
- In August 2016, the US-China Peoples Friendship Association arranged for and supported a US-based musical ensemble, The Braided Candle, to attend and perform at the 33rd China Harbin Summer Music Festival. The musicians, Ms. Gao Hong and Mr. Steven Greenman on violin, showcased both traditional Chinese music and Easter European klezmer and Jewish music, with which Harbin has a strong historical connection.
- The Chapter hosted a May 20, 2018 visit from the Harbin Foreign Affairs Office to the Twin Cities (greeted by Advisory Board member Kit Spangler and former Board member Yue-him Tam), with HFAO Deputy Director Peter Cao and our long-standing HFAO friend Alex Meng, and, from the Jewish Community Relations Council of MN and the Dakotas, Executive Director Steve Hunegs. The Harbin group was organizing a “homecoming” of former Harbin residents in the “diaspora”, including Jewish communities around the world. (Ralph Beha)
- In September 2018 the USCPFA-MN received the scholars from the Harbin Academy of Social Sciences. The Chapter helped former board member Prof. Yue-Him Tam organize a lecture titled Historical Events and the Contemporary Era: Human Experimentation and Bacteriological Warfare Atrocities by Japanese Army Unit 731.
- From January 3-12, 2018, President Ralph Beha led a USCPFA-MN Delegation, at the invitation of the Harbin Foreign Affairs Office, to the 2018 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival and the International Cold Zone Forum held there every year.
2. St. Paul - Changsha Sister Relationship
- In January 2015, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and a delegation of the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society traveled to Changsha, capital of Hunan. During the meeting, the delegations witnessed the signing of a sister parks agreement between the Changsha Yanghu Wetland Park (洋湖湿地公园) and Phalen Regional Park in St. Paul.
- The Chapter arranged for the declaration of February 25 as “Changsha-St. Paul Sister City Day” approved by the City of St. Paul. The Chapter provided letters of support, in addition to its contribution to the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society for the St. Paul – Changsha China Friendship Garden.
3. Minnesota - Shaanxi Sister Relationship
- In 2014, the St. Anthony Brass Quintet’s trip to China was sponsored by the USCPFA-MN, with generous assistance from private donors and Meet Minneapolis. In Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi, they performed and taught classes with the help of the Shaanxi Translators’ Organization.
- On September 25, 2018, the Chapter hosted a dinner party for our long-standing friend from our Sister Province of Shaanxi, Mr. An Wei of the Shaanxi Translators Association and his team, who were in the US to collaborate in Helen Foster Snow studies in Utah. An Wei was present at creation of Minnesota-Shaanxi Sister State/Province relationship some 35 years ago, and he actively cultivated that relationship for many years. (Ralph)