PENANG is becoming a ‘Friendship City’ with Sanya, a Hainanese city renowned as a winter retreat for wealthy Chinese pensioners.
The state government is looking forward to exchanges of local government administration ideas, cultural creative industries, sports and tourism products with the Sanya Municipal People’s Government.
Plans are also afoot to increase the direct flights linking both places from one to three times a week, announced Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
“We are waiting for Sanya to finalise the deal and we hope to achieve this by the year end,” he said at the signing of the Friendship City memorandum of Understanding between the Hainanese municipality’s vice mayor Xu Zhenling (pic) and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail in Komtar recently.
Also present were Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Seri Choot Ewe Seng and China’s consul-general to Penang Wu Jun.
Sanya, the southernmost city in China’s Hainan island, enjoys tropical weather that northern Chinese folk crave for, explained MBPP secretary Yew Tung Seang.
“The population is about 680,000 but it doubles in the winter months.
“Well-to-do pensioners flock to the island to hide from the biting cold up north,” Yew said, adding that most of these ‘winter migrants’ owned apartment units in Sanya.
He said this uniqueness has given Sanya the moniker ‘Hawaii of China’.
He said Penang would gain by learning how its local government regulates the annual population swell, while the Hainanese city would benefit from Penang’s experiences, such as in heritage conservation and the promotion of the cycling culture.
Patahiyah said the exchange is an important one.
“This bilateral relationship will be beneficial in the long run as we work ‘hand in hand’ for the benefit of the people of both cities,” she said.