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Another sister city? It's all Chinese to me

December 07, 2009

Ah, so now Washington County has a "friendship-city relationship" with Jinhua City in China.

Now that we know that, what do we do?

Commissioners President John Barr said he entered into the deal on a recent trip to China which says that "the two parties will endeavor to formally establish friendly relations so as to promote common prosperity and development."

I see. Well, if they can talk Washington County into that one child per household idea, I might be all for it.

Of course, Hagerstown has that sister city thing going with some town in Germany, and far as I can tell, all it's gotten us is "Wesel Boulevard." So when they finally get around to extending Eastern Boulevard we can name it "General Tso's Chicken Avenue."

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Speaking of Wesel, remember the donkey? Back in 2002, the mayor of Wesel paid a visit and as a gift he brought us this, ah, what's the word, "unique" 4-foot-high metal donkey sculpture. I thought it should replace Little Heiskell atop City Hall, but it appears not to be ready for prime time -- although it does reside in the lobby.

So maybe the mayor of Jinhua will one day bring us a metal dragon and we can have the world's first international mechanical petting zoo.

I don't know exactly what Commissioner Barr was doing in China. Visiting our money, perhaps. But I don't have any problem with cementing relations between our communities. Next time we send another manufacturing plant overseas, it would be nice if it could go to someone we know.

I peeped at Wikipedia to get the 411 on this Jinhua place, having not heard of it before. The Web site says "the city is best known for its dry cured ham."

So, there you go. They make a lot of ham, we eat a lot of ham. Our destinies are sealed.

To continue, "The most famous native of Jinhua is the Immortal Huang, a Daoist holy man of the 4th century A.D., whose descendants still live in the area. Wuyang Shan (Reclining Sheep Mountain) is said to be a sheep, which was turned to stone by the Immortal Huang, a trick, which he learned through his years of diligently studying Daoism."

No problem. We'll see your Immortal Huang and raise you a Nora Roberts. What else you got?

"It is also the home city of Niffti-Miffti prize-winning biologist Rui Chen, born there in 1986."

Oh no, not the Niffti-Miffti prize. I don't know how we top that. I guess I'll put our chips on Washington County Teacher of the Year Jaime Mason and call.

It should be noted, however, that not all those in the county offices are down with our new Chinese friends. Commissioner Kristin Aleshire, for one, wants to put the issue to a vote among the commissioners, citing concerns about "China's practices related to human rights, labor laws, copyright policies and environmental issues."

All right, we can bicker and argue about who imprisoned whom, and poison levels in preschool children's toys, but at the end of the day, we're not perfect either. We have committed transgressions that we regret with all our heart, and I am speaking specifically about the Tareq and Michaele Salahi media coverage.

And if it's voted down, how are we going to go back to the good people of Jinhua and tell them the deal's off? "Uh, sorry about this L'aing, but back home we have this awkward little thing called democracy ..."

Of course, if they're looking us up on Wikipedia at the moment, they might feel as if they've dodged a bullet.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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