ICMA and the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) formally established the ICMA China Center at a December 8 meeting conducted by video web conference in English and Chinese. Meeting at 7:00 AM Washington time, 8:00 PM Beijing time, the newly constituted ICMA China Center board confirmed the partners’ mutual understandings and responsibilities.
The formation of the Center is the culmination of lengthy and intensive groundwork that began in 2008, as ICMA recognized the importance of establishing a presence in China. According to ICMA Executive Director Bob O’Neill, “Given the incredible pace and scale of urbanization in China, ICMA has an opportunity not only to learn from the Chinese experience but also to make an important contribution and participate in the evolution of urban governance in that country.”
The Center, housed in the public administration department on the CUPL campus in Beijing, will conduct information exchange, research, and training activities focused on local government, beginning with training for mayors in April 2012. Over time, the Center plans to provide internships, study tours, an annual conference, consulting and technical assistance, publications, and other offerings identified through market research by ICMA’s Chinese partners. A long-term objective is to build the technical skills of Chinese administrators and create model projects for city improvements that can be replicated throughout China.
During an exploratory visit to China in 2008, ICMA identified potential partners and began searching out possibilities for engagement with municipal administrators in the country. ICMA eventually selected CUPL, a prestigious university with a strong public administration program and a top-tier law school, as its partner.
In September 2010, David Grossman, director of ICMA International Programs, and Ms. Xu Lan, director of CUPL International, signed a framework agreement that defined the mission and vision for the Center: To improve the quality of city management in China by providing information and services to Chinese city officials. The agreement was later approved by the government of China through the Ministry of Education.
In opening remarks at the December 8 meeting, Mr. Grossman affirmed the importance of the ICMA-CUPL partnership and the Center in promoting local governance in China. Madame Guilin Zhang, vice president of CUPL, spoke in Mandarin, saying, “I believe that the ICMA China Center will become an effective platform for exchange, communication, and cooperation between city managers in China and the United States . . . we will do our best to make sure that our cooperation will be successful.”
The eight-member ICMA China Center Board includes Mr. Grossman; Judit Deilinger, director of new initiatives for ICMA International; Robert Agee, former city administrator, Annapolis, Maryland; Ted Samaras, Chairman, Global Placement and Staffing; and four representatives from CUPL. Lijun (Lily) Luo will be executive director of the Center, providing liaison with ICMA.
Initially, the Center will be financed by seed money and in-kind contributions from ICMA and CUPL. In the future it will be financed by revenue from products and services that are currently under development and by corporate contributions.
ICMA has engaged in a number of China-related programs and activities. Most recently, ICMA facilitated a Climate Change Fellows program that, with funding from the U.S. Department of State, partnered professionals from China and three other Asian/Pacific countries with U.S. cities having exemplary climate adaptation strategies.
In 2009, ICMA established an EPA-funded program that shared U.S. expertise in landfill gas recovery with Chinese municipalities. The same year, ICMA signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Changsha to help develop the city’s capacity in municipal management, particularly in environmental management, urban planning, and technology applications. And ICMA has hosted Chinese officials and students during their visits to the United States.
To learn more about these and other activities, visit the China page on the ICMA International website and the “International Development” topic area in the Knowledge Network, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.