Haikou - People's Republic of China

Elmer meets with Minister StylesNew Horizons

Winner of the Haikou Sister City Cup Elmer Lee (Li Zongyang) sampled the best of Darwin life and culture during his whirlwind visit in June. Elmer was awarded the trip to Darwin by the Mayor of Haikou after his hotly contested win in the English language competition. The Sister City experience has had a significant impact on Elmer, a student from Hainan University, who was subsequently offered an internship at the Haikou Office of Foreign Affairs. Elmer’s trip to Darwin was his first to a foreign country and has developed his interest in public management and broadened his horizons.

Life as a teenagerLife as a Teenager

Have you ever wanted to know what life as a teenager might be like in Darwin or Haikou? You now have the opportunity to find out. Two books in both English and Mandarin, designed and developed by Darwin High School and the Hainan Overseas Middle School students, chronical the likes, dislikes, interests and culture of young people in both cities. ‘Life as a Teenager’ was launched 8 August 2014 at the Casuarina Library. See photos of the lanuch here.

Best Friends Forever Delegation from Haikou

Australia and China recently confirmed their commitment to continue being friends at the annual Australia-China Friendship Society Conference, held in Darwin 7 – 8 June. Our friends of over 23 years, Haikou City, brought a delegation to Darwin for the occasion led by the Vice Mayor of Haikou. Delegates took the time to reflect on our long term engagement and our past and future achievements as a partnership. We also had the opportunity to show our friends from China some Territory hospitality, including our very friendly reptiles. Our guests from Haikou were also very interested in the Darwin CBD Masterplan as future planning and urban sprawl become major issues for their community.

Multicultural Dance Performance

Chinese dancers

Council supported the Multicultural Dancing Night held 7 June 2013. Hosted by the Australia – China Friendship Society NT the night was a showcase of iconic dances from Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Ireland and Australia and was a celebration of the talents of Darwin’s multicultural community. Those who missed out will get an opportunity to see a new production in 2014.

Language AwardsStudents in Haikou on the way home from school

City of Darwin through its Haikou Sister City Community Committee this year sponsored the senior section of the NT Language Awards organised and run by the Language Teachers Association of the Northern Territory. Committee members and the Lord Mayor had an opportunity to speak to students prior to the competition, discussing the benefits of learning a second language and encouraging them to continue with their language studies.

Composite: A Sister Cities Photographic Exhibition

Haikou city by nightEver wondered what Darwin and Haikou local environments might have in common? Did you know that Haikou has palm trees and beautiful sunsets just like Darwin? Citizens of Haikou and Darwin were invited to contribute photos of their local environment to a touring photo exhibition. Photographs were judged by an international panel of judges and winners selected from each city. COMPOSITE: A Sister Cities Photographic Competition, was not only an opportunity to showcase the skill of local and international photographers, but the exhibition challeneged people's perception about what is Darwin and what is Haikou.

Lord Mayor of Darwin opened the Darwin showing of the exhibtion, 18 April 2012. Guests tasted traditional Chinese dumplings, watched a special dance performance by the Australia - China Friendship Society and voted in the People's Choice Awards. Mayor of Haikou opened the Haikou showing of the exhibition, 12 October 2012 at the Hainan University Library. The exhibition was enjoyed by all. Visit our photo galleries to see the winning entries and photos of the Darwin opening. For more info read our COMPOSITE: Information Sheet

Past Projects

Darwin's Time Capsule"Darwin's Time Capsule" has safely made its way to Haikou where it will be on permanent display at the Haikou Office of Foreign Affairs. Created by local artist, Techy Masero, the uniquely Darwin work was an initiative of Council to further strengthen our Sister City relationship through art and culture. The work will be co-located with artworks from Haikou's other Sister Cities. See photos of the artwork here and read the description in English and Chinese.

To celebrate our friendship and to welcome our guests from Haikou competing at the Arafura Games we asked the Australia China Friendship Society to develop a dance titled "Happy Bamboo" that symbolizes the Darwin and Haikou Sister City relationship.

Happy bamboo dancers“Happy Bamboo” uses traditional dance techniques, native to Haikou. This type of dancing is called “Li Zhu.” In the dance the happy Haikou boys and girls are playing and dancing with the bamboo in celebration of the harvest season. The arrival of the dragonflies, which represent City of Darwin, signifies the opening of a new chapter for the City of Haikou. The dragonflies wish to create a Sister City friendship with Haikou to foster harmony and prosperity in both cities.

Towards the end of the dance we see the Haikou boys and girls dancing together with the Dragonflies, symbolising the unity between our two cities. Click here to see photos of the inaugral performance.

September 5th, 2010 marked the 20 year anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Darwin and Haikou. Darwin Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer and Haikou Sister City Community Committee Chairman Phillip Rudd had the opportunity to attend celebrations in Haikou. The occasion was marked by a gala banquet with traditional Chinese performances. Lord Mayor of Darwin was presented with a key to Haikou City. Mr. Li, the former Mayor of Haikou who was present at the original signing of the agreement was an honoured guest at the event. To see photos of the event, click here. To view the news article in local press click here.

Background and History

Western coast of Haikou at sunsetInitial investigations for a sister city affiliation with a city in the People's Republic of China began in February 1987 through Lord Mayor Alec Fong Lim, the Australian-China Friendship Society and Council's then Sister City Management Committee. At the time Xiamen and Haikou, Hainan Island were being considered. The final decision was made in 1989 based on the historical links between Darwin and Haikou, with the assistance of the Australian and Chinese Ambassadors, the Friendship Associations and the Chung Wah Society.

Lions in celebrationThe affiliation with Haikou was established in 1990 and in a very short time, the beginnings of a student exchange program commenced with two students from Darwin visiting Haikou to study in early 1992. The exchange program became fully reciprocal when, in April 1993, five Haikou students came to Darwin for twelve months. Through the generosity of the community, they were home hosted and began studies at Darwin High School. Two completed advanced English studies at the Northern Territory University. To date seventeen Darwin students have benefited from studies in Haikou and eighteen Haikou students have been involved in the reciprocal exchange program. In 1997, sixteen athletes from Haikou participated in the Arafura Games in Darwin and won gold medals in both table tennis and field events.

Bicycle riders in HaikouThe Gull Force Memorial Project was conceived in the mid 90's to provide a tangible, meaningful project that would build on the original reasons for developing the sister city relationship between Darwin and Haikou. The project was concluded in 2003 when two sister commemorative plaques were laid in honour of the men and women, who suffered in captivity at the hands of the Japanese in World War II on Hainan Island. The Gull Force, 266 Australian soldiers, fell into the hands of the Japanese while defending Ambon and were relocated to a POW camp to work as slave labour on Hainan Island from 1942 to 1945.

Haikou city's gardenersThe Australian plaque was laid in Bicentennial Park, Darwin, Northern Territory of Australia on Sister Cities Day, 5 July 2003. The dedication service was conducted in accordance with military ceremony and with consideration of respective cultural tradition.

On 14 September 2003 the sister city memorial dedication ceremony took place on Hainan Island and a Mayoral delegation including a Gulf Force survivor travelled from Darwin to take part in the ceremony. The plaque was mounted on a rock close to the site of the POW camp, adjacent to the burial site of two POW escapees close to Dong Fang City. The ceremony was attended by delegation members, the Lord Mayor of Dong Fang, Haikou Foreign Affairs Officials, community members and surviving residents of the village that serviced the POW camp during the Japanese occupation. A video of each ceremony was produced to record the historic occasions.

Haikou citizen out in the parkThe laying of the plaques represented the culmination of years of collaborative work between the sister cities of Darwin and Haikou which resulted in both cities, from Lord Mayors to community members, building close relationships and a joint appreciation for their shared history.

Council still supports this project today by providing an annual donation to the local farmer in Dong Fang who carefully maintains the burial site. To view photos of a visit from a Dongfang delegation in August 2010, click here.