Xicheng (shee-chung) District, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China, became Pasadena’s fifth sister city in October 1999, when Mayor Bogaard and Governor (Mayor) signed an agreement in Pasadena. Xicheng (West City) is in the center of Beijing, just west of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. It is well known as a business, cultural, financial, historical, and political district of Beijing, blending the old with the new. Temples, residences of historic figures, traditional living compounds, and exquisite parks are legacies of Beijing’s long history. Pasadena has a legacy in the Pacific Asia Museum, whose design was inspired by a building in Xicheng District.
After an extensive study of cities in China, including visits to six Chinese cities and visits to Pasadena by delegations from those six cities, a subcommittee unanimously recommended that Xicheng District become our sister city. Xicheng District’s desires and capabilities most closely matched Pasadena’s criteria for a sister city.
Friendships with the Chinese have developed, with yearly visits to Xicheng since 1997, including a group of 28 in 2000. A group of 12 Chinese visited Pasadena at the time of the signing ceremony in 1999, and 35 children of the New Moon Chorus, accompanied by 10 adults, performed in Pasadena in March 2001. Proposals by each city for long-term activities and exchanges in culture, education, medicine, social services, and business continue to be discussed. Students in Pasadena’s Blair High School and Xicheng’s 161 Middle School have been communicating electronically since 1998. Xicheng sent hundreds of books to both the Pasadena Public Library and the Pasadena City College Library, covering Chinese art, history, literature, cooking, medicine, martial arts, and other aspects of Chinese culture.