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[whitespace] Agreement for "Friendship City" signed in Taiwan

Cupertino--A delegation of 42 Cupertinians excitedly stepped off a bus and into open arms in Hsinchu City, Taiwan two weeks ago, as civic leaders there rolled out the red carpet to further the two cities' "Friendship City" relationship.

What began in Cupertino two months ago culminated at a ceremony in Hsinchu City, as the mayors of both cities shook hands over a resolution committing the two to a future filled with exchange and friendship.

Cupertino has a similar "Sister City" relationship with Toyokawa, Japan, but Sister Cities International only allows for one sibling per city, so Hsinchu and Cupertino opted for a less-formal relationship. It requires no formal registration with any organization.

Hsinchu City also has a Sister City commitment with Beaverton, OR.

Included in the delegation were school board members, city business leaders, high-tech experts and arts and culture enthusiasts, who each took with them their own reasons of pursuing the relationship.

Hsinchu City, delegates say, will provide Cupertino with many unique opportunities down the road, with possible student, business and civic exchanges.

It's still early in the friendship but should the communication continue between the two, another delegation could visit Hsinchu City by March, with subsequent visits to follow. Hsinchu is also celebrating its 170th anniversary next September, and has offered another potential opportunity to host Cupertino visitors.

"This is just starting," Mayor Michael Chang said. "We have made contacts to establish educational, cultural and potential exchanges relating to the high tech industry.

"It allows the community a vehicle to learn about other parts of the world, and allows [Cupertino] to come closer together."

According to Chang and Fremont Union High School Superintendent Joe Hamilton, delegates got to know each other very well on the trip, which expands their networking capabilities and knowledge of each other at home.

Hamilton said the trip provided him insight to one of his district's largest population.

"It's an important gesture to a segment of our community that we're interested in them and their heritage," he said. "It's also an opportunity to learn more about the culture of that large segment of the community."

Hamilton also said he's looking forward to developing an official district to district exchange program for students and teachers. Currently, the only exchange program offered by the FUHSD is through outside agencies.

From the stories they tell and the pictures they've shown, Hsinchu City is a friendly, clean, cutting-edge community--something any city would strive to become.

Hsinchu's population is about half the size of San Jose's. With more than 330,000 people, Hsinchu is known as Taiwan's "Silicon Valley," and boasts a 1,500 acre Science-based Industrial Park that accounted for $13 billion in sales last year.

The park and city serve as the center of Taiwan's high tech industry and employs 70,000 people, most of whom live within a very close distance to work. It also has an experimental, bilingual school where children of families who go to Taiwan for work attend.

According to Linda Asbury, executive director of Cupertino's Chamber of Commerce, the business park and the chamber in Hsinchu were equally impressive, and offer a wealth of business opportunity.

She said 245 high tech companies are located there, many of which have offices here as well. Apple Computer, she said, has an office in Taipei, about an hour's drive to the north of Hsinchu.

Hsinchu's chamber equivalent has 10,000 members, or about 90 percent of the local business community.

Asbury said she was able to meet many Cupertino residents who are from Taiwan through the trip, and hopes that the friendship city relationship will bolster the chamber's Asian American Council, as well as businesses in Silicon Valley.
Steve Enders

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Web extra to the November 25-December 2, 1998 issue of Metro.

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