2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference

U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference

The 2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference will connect business leaders, government officials, and citizen diplomats from the U.S. and China. The Conference will celebrate the 30th Anniversaries of Chicago’s sister cities Shanghai and Shenyang and will provide best practices and networking opportunities for the continued success and growth of U.S.-China sister city partnerships.

Online registration is open! CLICK HERE to register. CLICK HERE to view the Agenda.


Thursday, October 22 - Friday, October, 23, 2015

U.S.-China Conference Panelists


The Hilton Chicago
720 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60605

Hotel Accommodation

The Sister Cities International special room block rate at The Hilton Chicago is now closed. To book a room at a regular rate at the Hilton Chicago, please call 1-877-865-5320 and reference "2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference" to reserve your room, or book online HERE. All guests will receive complimentary basic wireless internet in guest rooms. 


The Renaissance Blackstone Chicago (636 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605) is offering a rate of $269/night. Please call Marriott International Reservations at 1-800-468-3571 or book online HERE by the cutoff date, Thursday, October 8. Please reference Sister Cities International when booking your room. This hotel is across the street from the Hilton Chicago.   

Additional hotel options

So you may better budget your hotel stay, current state sales tax is 10.5%, and the hotel occupancy tax rate is 16.4%. This will be added per hotel room, per night at the end of your stay.

Click here for more details about hotel accommodations.


  • Full Event: $450 (Full event registration includes the 10/22 Welcome Reception, 10/23 Conference and Closing Dinner)
  • Full Event Young Professional Rate: $350 (for individuals under the age of 35)
  • Individual Ticket - Welcome Reception (10/22): $100
  • Individual Ticket - Closing Dinner (10/23): $150

Click here for full list of fees and policies.

Click here to register.

U.S.-China Sponsors

Sponsorship Opportunities

Support the 2015 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference and be part of a wonderful event furthering ties between the U.S. and China! CLICK HERE to download the sponsorship packet detailing various sponsor levels.

Honorary Host Committee

Thank you to our Honorary Host Committee Members! 

  • General Colin Powell
  • Alderwoman Pat Dowell (Chicago Ward 3)
  • Alderman Mike Doyle (PA-14)
  • Alderwoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)
  • Alderwoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)
  • Alderman John Shimkus (IL-15)
  • Mayor Alan Arakwa (Maui County, Hawaii)
  • Mayor Jim Ardis (Peoria, Illinois)
  • Mayor William V. Bell (Durham, North Carolina)
  • Mayor Andy Berke (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
  • Mayor Muriel Bowser (Washington, DC)
  • Mayor Byron Brown (Buffalo, New York)
  • Mayor Mike Cornett (Okalahoma City, Oklahoma)
  • Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci (Union City, California)
  • Mayor Buddy Dyer (Orlando, Florida)
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Mayor Jose Esteves (Milpitas, California)
  • Mayor Kevin Faulconer (San Diego, California)
  • Mayor Andrew Gillum (Tallahassee, Florida)
  • Mayor Tom Henry (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  • Mayor DeWayne Hopkins (Muscatine, Iowa)
  • Mayor McKinley Price (Newport News, Virginia)
  • Mayor Tomas Regalado (Miami, Florida)
  • Mayor Merrill Sanford (Juneau, Alaska)
  • Mayor Greg Stanton (Phoenix, Arizona)
  • Mayor Marilyn Strickland (Tacoma, Washington)
  • Mayor Ivy R. Taylor (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner (Kansas City, Missouri)
  • Mayor Lovely A. Warren (Rochester, New York)
  • Mayor Knox White (Greenville, South Carolina)
  • Mayor Howard Wiggs (Lakeland, Florida)


Please note the agenda is subject to change.

Day 1 (Thursday, October 22)

9:00am - 6:00pm: Early On-Site Registration

7:00pm - 9:00pm: Welcome Reception, Cyrus Tang Hall of China at the Field Museum

A special welcome reception hosted by Chicago Sister Cities International will bring together conference attendees, government officials, and special dignitaries. The reception will be the kickoff to the U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference so you don't want to miss it! Transportation will be provided to and from the Field Museum and the Hilton Chicago. 

Day 2 (Friday, October 23)

7:30am - 8:30am: Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:30am - 9:30am: Opening Welcome

For over 35 years U.S.-China Sister Cities have been working together to better utilize their relationships for economic growth, as well as share in culture and educational experiences to gain a valued understanding of one another. Join us as we welcome you to the 2015 U.S. - China Sister Cities Conference.  Madame Li Xiaolin, President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and Mary Kane, President and CEO of Sister Cities International will provide remarks as we celebrate the 30th Anniversaries of Chicago’s Sister Cities, Shanghai and Shenyang, and discuss opportunities for the continued success and growth of U.S.-China sister city partnerships.


  • Rahm Emanuel, Mayor, Chicago, Illinois
  • Huang Kai, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of Shenyang People's Congress
  • Xie Yuan, Vice President, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
  • Mary D. Kane, President and CEO, Sister Cities International

10:30am - 11:30am: Breakout Sessions

Educational Exchanges and Programming: Confucius Institutes are nonprofit public institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China whose goal is to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges. With similar goals to the Sister City mission, learn how to engage elementary schools and cultural programming to increase exchange between your U.S. – Chinese Sister City and develop sister school relationships.


  • Alan Mather, Chief Officer, Office of College and Career Success, Chicago Public Schools


  • Gao Deyi, Deputy Director General, Shanghai Municipal Commission of Education
  • Wang Xiaoting, Director, International Cooperation Division, Education Department of Gansu Province
  • Li Yuan, Deputy Director, Division of International Cooperation and Exchanges, Guizhou Institute of Technology
  • Travis Tanner, Senior Vice President and Chief Operative Officer, the 100,000 Strong Foundation
  • Jane Lu, Coordinator, Director, Confucius Institute of Chicago Office of Language and Cultural Education

Building Business in China: Learn from corporate executives representing various U.S. and Chinese companies, as well as municipal officials on how to successfully conduct business between the U.S. and China. Learn what guidelines and regulations you need to know before starting a business on the ground, as well as investment and trade advice.  


  • Xi Jincai, Executive Vice Mayor of Xianyang, Shaaxi Province
  • Lin Lijiao, Vice Mayor of Jieyang, Guangdong Province
  • Wu Jingming, Vice Mayor of Hechuan District, Chongqing Municipality
  • Samuel T. Mock, Managing Member, Condor International Advisors, LLC

12:00pm - 1:00pm: Luncheon Keynote


  • Jake Cefolia, Vice President, Atlantic and Pacific Sales, United Airlines
  • Chen Xu, USA and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of China

1:30pm - 2:30pm: Breakout Sessions

Forming International Partnerships with Universities and Colleges: Forming partnerships with Universities and Colleges abroad or those that have relationships with China could be the key to engaging foreign students from China in your community. Learn what sister city programs are doing in their local communities and hear from experts on the next steps to becoming more active in your community’s institutions for higher education.


  • Carolyn Bishop, Consultant, Atlanta Sister Cities Commission


  • Zhang Yunxiang, Vice President, Northwest University
  • Chen Bin, Vice President, Shanghai University for Science and Technology
  • Yu Ming, Director, Division of International Cooperation, Hebei University of Technology
  • Rashid Ansari, Professor and Department Head, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Cindy Elliott, Assistant Provost for Global Relations, Fort Hays State University
  • Ian H. Solomon, Vice President for Global Engagement, University of Chciago

Protocol of Doing Business between the U.S. and China: With frequent interaction with Chinese officials, it is essential to learn the business culture, etiquette, and meeting protocol to get the most out of your trip and business venture. Protocol tips and experiences are shared by business and exchange experts in this useful session. 


  • Zhang Baojun, Deputy Director General of Foreign Affairs Office, Gansu Provincial People's Government
  • Ye Changqing, Executive Vice President, Heibei People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
  • Yang Zhuo, Deputy Director General, Shenyang Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Development

2:45pm - 3:45pm: Breakout Sessions

How to Incorporate Yourself into Your Community's Economic Development Goals: Economic development can help engage new audiences in your community and strengthen your relationship with local government. However, there is no blanket model for how a community should go about leveraging their sister city relationships for generating wealth and business.  Explore how green technology is changing the landscape of cities, and how a city’s urban development and planning can aid in innovative programming and exchanges through your sister city program. 


  • Yang Changya, Mayor, Tongchuan, Shaaxi Province
  • Gao Hongbo, Executive Vice Mayor, Jiangbei District, Chongqing Municipality
  • Li Changmei, Vice Mayor, Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province
  • Connie Bacon, Commissioner, Port of Tacoma/The Northwest Seaport Alliance
  • Andrew Spinelli, Director, Global Strategic Initiatives, World Business Chicago

Promoting Your City as a Tourist Destination: Discover different perspectives on how to attract business to your city from a local level and learn how to make your city a travel hub for international guests and business travelers. 


  • Yun Jianmin, Mayor of Qingyang, Gansu Province
  • Wang Xiaojun, Vice Mayor, Weinan, Shaanxi Province
  • Zhu Weiwei, Vice Mayor, Heyuan, Guangdong Province
  • Melissa Cherry, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Cultural Tourism, Choose Chicago
  • Cathy Domanico, Vice President of Tourist and Leisure Sales, Choose Chicago

4:00pm - 5:00pm: Breakout Sessions

Meeting for Cities Seeking Cities: A formal meeting for those cities who would like to get to know each other and become potential partners. Pre-registration required.


  • Tai Zhan, Deputy Secretary General, Chongqing Municipal People's Government
  • Zhang Zongbao, Chairman, Chinese Poeple's Political Consultative Conference Xuchang Municipal Committee, Henan Province
  • Wu Dan, Standing Member of CPC Qiannan Prefectural Committee, Secretary of CPC Duyun Municipal Committee, Guizhou Province

Reviving Sister City Partnerships between U.S. and Chinese Communities: In a candid roundtable discussion, brainstorm and discuss what is needed to re-engage your dormant U.S. – Chinese Sister City partnership. A few expert facilitators will be available from successful U.S. – China programs to lend advice and stimulate conversation. 


  • Wang Haijun, Director General, Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Government of Heilongjiang Province
  • Liu Tianyu, Deputy Director General, Foreign Affairs Office of Liaoning Provincial Government
  • Li Zhen, Vice President, Henan People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries

7:00pm - 10:00pm: Closing Dinner

A special dinner to celebrate the 30th anniversaries of Chicago's sister cities Shanghai and Shenyang. Enjoy a three course dinner, traditional Chinese entertainment, and witness the sister city signings of a few new U.S.-China partnerships.

Questions? Please email conference@sistercities.org.