The Gala for Peace Luncheon brought two distant and distinct cities together

T.O. Mayor Andy Fox and Qingdao Mayor Zhang Jie release doves of peace

T.O. Mayor Andy Fox and Qingdao Mayor Zhang Jie release doves of peace

By Debra Tash

February 27th, 2014: The Gala for Peace Luncheon was held at the Lake Sherwood Country Club as the City of Thousand Oaks welcomed its new sister city from China, Shibei District, Qingdao.

To start the festivities T.O.’s mayor, Andy Fox and the mayor (his alternate title, Director) of Qingdao, Zhang Jie, participated in a symbolic release of white doves.  Co-founder of, Ron Plotkin was Master of Ceremonies.  Grade school children from Saint Patrick’s delivered a welcoming message in Mandarin to Mayor Jie.  St. Patrick’s is the only area school to teach this foreign language.

Qingado, named China’s most livable city, is on the eastern coast bordering the Yellow Sea.  It is the seventh busiest port in the world, and the District boasts over a million residents. There is a strong industrial base and they service over 125 sea routes to 130 different countries. They are home to Qingdao: University Medical school and also the Ocean University of

St. Patrick's gives Mayor Zhang Jie a welcome in Mandarin

St. Patrick’s gives Mayor Zhang Jie a welcome in Mandarin. Also pictured Ron Plotkin was Master of Ceremonies

China. It is a city rich in history and culture as well as thriving, biotech, bio-pharmaceuticals, IT and aviation industries.

The city of Thousand Oaks is a good counterpart for this Chinese metropolis with Amgem. Baxter’s International, Sage Publications and many other enterprises making the T.O. their base.  It is also home to California Lutheran University, which Mayor Fox said in his address at the luncheon is: “Dedicated to the leaders for the future of a global society.” He also wished his guests a good new year.  This is the Chinese year of the Horse.

Mayor Fox, who was the first to speak, said: “Thousand Oaks is great place to live and work.” His words were translated into Chinese.  His counterpart, Mayor Jie, spoke next, his words being translated into English.

Mayor Jie said: “It is an honor to come to this phenomenal Thousand Oaks.”  He listed the city’s many attributes and said that: “Thousand Oaks sets an example for us to follow.”  Jie also stated that the two cities: “Have a great potential for exchange of business.”

Zhao Shangsen, Consul in the Political Section at the People’s Republic of China’s Consulate General in Los Angeles was last up at the lectern before the agreement documents cementing the two cities’ relationship were signed by the mayors. Shangsen related the story of his own home village in China., Seven Trees.  “We have more in common than in contrast.” Both places were named for what is beautiful.  The stately oaks here and for Seven Trees the willows that stand at the entrance to the village where he was born.

The delegation will visit the Reagan Library in Simi Valley tomorrow.

After signing documents of agreement, the two mayors shake hands

After signing documents of agreement, the two mayors shake hands

The Sister City Committee, co-chaired by Rosemary Licata and the brainchild of Debby Chang who teaches Chinese language and business culture at California Lutheran University, had clear goals set forth in its Mission Statement:

“Shibei District, City of Qingdao, Debby Chang and Thousand Oaks, California, United States of America.

“The mission of the Sister City Committee is to create an environment for promoting and developing effective and mutually beneficial co-operation between the citizens of Thousand Oaks and Shibei District of Qingdao.  We wish to conduct reciprocal cultural, educational, business, professional and technical exchanges.”

That journey started today.


Prior CJ article on sister city program:

Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis

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