After a surprise departure of Australia's town of Wagga Wagga from Kunming's circle of sister cities — after more than 30 years of being affiliated — the Wagga Wagga city council was quick to reverse the controversial decision to cut ties with Kunming.
Wagga Wagga chucks a uey*
The motion to end Wagga Wagga's ties with sister city Kunming drew widespread condemnation. However, Mayor Greg Conkey could not attend the council meeting due to illness, and said it was only because of "unfortunate circumstances" that three councillors were able to pass the motion which was opposed by the majority of councillors. Councillor Paul Funnell, who put forward the motion to cut ties with China, said he never expected it to pass but had wanted to raise his concerns about the cities' ties.
The one-sided decision to end the sister city relationship was criticised by community leaders, local politicians and the Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney and was reversed at an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday night, passing six votes to one.
That three elected members could shake the very foundation of goodwill which the reputation of this city is built upon, is a lesson for us all about the significant decisions we make and the impact they have on the people we represent, the broader community and, most importantly, our friends.
Mayor Greg Conkey said.
I'll be issuing an apology to the people of Kunming. I'm sure that will be a big step in repairing any damage that's been done and I'm sure the people of Kunming will understand. I'm sure our relationship will pick up where it left off.
Kunming municipal government statement
The Kunming Municipal Government released a statement ahead of Wednesday's vote, criticising the three councillors who supported the motion to end relations and saying that it supported the continuation of the sister-city relationship. The statement furthermore said that:
...we have noticed that the vast majority of citizens of Wagga Wagga expressed strong opposition and condemnation to the behaviours of the few councillors, which is consistent with the friendly relationships between the two cities.
Mayor Greg Conkey said:
It is appropriate that we extend our hand to our friends in China and assure them that it is a hand which will always be extended to them with sincerity, humility and trust.
*To chuck a uey: Australian slang for performing a U-turn.
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