WUHAN, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- The 2018 China International Friendship Cities Conference opened Thursday in the city of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province.
The two-day conference themed "Sharing Development Opportunities and Deepening Win-win Cooperation" has attracted over 800 representatives from more than 60 countries and regions.
"International friendship city exchange is an important channel for China's public and civil diplomacy," said Li Xiaolin, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
"By June this year, China's 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities had established more than 2,500 friendly province-city relations with 136 countries and regions since the establishment of the first international sister-city relationship in 1973, and China expects the number to continue to grow in the coming year."
Guests also expressed their wish to share their experience of city development for a better future for their people and the world.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said that China and Japan were close neighbors, and ancient Japan had learnt a lot from ancient China.
"Several days ago, I paid a visit to Xi'an, the ancient national capital city Chang'an where Japan sent many envoys to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). We are very thankful for that. And now we can work further in more areas, such as the construction of an aged society," he said.
The China International Friendship Cities Conference, initiated in 2008, is one of the most influential platforms for China's local government to carry out international exchanges. It is convened every two years and has been held in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
An investment conference for international friendship cities, themed sessions, and exhibitions will also be held at this year's conference.