CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — UPDATE (Friday, Nov. 20):
The debate over the nation's Sister City program continues. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is weighing in on Sen. Marsha Blackburn's call for federal oversight into China's "Sister City" program with many U.S. cities, including Chattanooga.
He said today that he doesn't know of any evidence that sister cities are working with the Chinese government.
ORIGINAL STORY (Wednesday, Nov. 18):
Tennessee U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn is calling for federal oversight into China's "Sister City" program with many U.S. cities, including with Chattanooga.
Sen. Blackburn's office says she has introduced legislation called the Sister City Transparency Act with three of her Republican Senate colleagues that she says would "shed light" on the 157 sister city partnerships between U.S. and Chinese communities.
“Sister-city partnerships may be Beijing’s newest political weapon. Across the globe, China has exploited these relationships, which are ostensibly intended to promote cultural exchange, to achieve geostrategic goals,” said Senator Blackburn. “It is imperative we shed light on these partnerships to determine whether they leave American communities vulnerable to foreign espionage and ideological coercion.”
Chattanooga has a Sister City relationship with the Chinese city of Wuxi, one that was established back in October of 1982. It has similar relationships with cities in Germany, Israel, Japan, Russia, and Korea.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants to spread its influence wherever it can. Now there is reason to believe Beijing is using partnerships between local governments in the United States and China to spread lies, steal ideas, and gather information it can use against Americans. The Sister City Transparency Act shines a light on this threat and ensures we have the information we need to protect our communities from the Chinese government’s spies and propagandists,” said Senator Hawley.
Sen. Blackburn says the Sister City Transparency Act Would Order a Government Accountability Office Report To:
Depend on us to keep you posted on this legislation.