The city of Haimen in China has officially signed on as Bendigo's newest sister city.
Representatives of the Haimen Municipal People’s Government met with members of the City of Greater Bendigo council at the Bendigo Town Hall yesterday to formally confirm the relationship.
The city of more than one million people in China's eastern Jiangsu province is only one third the size of Bendigo, despite having ten times the population.
Even though we are thousands of miles apart, the feeling between us is very close.Jiang Long
Mayor Peter Cox said the agreement would help build stronger economic, cultural, tourism and educational links between the two cities.
"The advent of technology such as the internet has made the world a smaller place, so it makes sense to form close ties with other countries, especially neighbours such as China," Cr Cox said.
"An official sister city relationship between Greater Bendigo and Haimen has the potential to build strong economic ties between the two cities and further encourage exchange programs between local schools."
Cr Cox said Haimen was a natural fit with Bendigo given the city's continued recognition and celebration of its Chinese heritage.
"Victoria also has a sister state relationship with Jiangsu province, so a formal relationship with Haimen would reflect the goals of the state government and further encourage government to government relations between the two countries," he said.
"I warmly welcome the delegation to Bendigo and look forward to many more opportunities for representatives from both our cities to meet in the years ahead."
Haimen Municipal People's Government party secretary Jiang Long, who signed the agreement on behalf of the city, said the visit had laid a solid foundation for a strong relationship.
"Our visit is a starting point for new cooperation in the future," he said.
"Even though we are thousands of miles apart, the feeling between us is very close."
Bendigo Senior Secondary College and Bendigo South East College both already have sister schools in Haimen and the delegation visited both schools, as well as touring the Bendigo Art Gallery and Golden Dragon Museum.
The City of Greater Bendigo has been involved in the sister city movement since 1987 when the first such relationship was established with the city of Los Altos, California.
Since then, a relationship was also established with the town of Penzance in Cornwall, England in 1996, which was extended to incorporate nearby St Just in 2013.
Mayor Peter Cox said the relationships with Penzance and St Just were particularly important to Bendigo due to the strong Cornish heritage which still impacted on the community today.
"The Cornish people came here as a result of gold mining and if you look at the communities of Long Gully, Eaglehawk and in particular Sailors Gully and California Gully, lots of families have an association," he said.
"Their ancestors came from Cornwall so it's important that we learn about and keep in the front of our minds what those people brought to Bendigo."
However Cr Cox said the council had not had an active relationship with Los Altos within the past year.