Carmel ends membership with organization that sponsored China tour

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Carmel has ended its membership with an organization that is focused on building relationships between China and states across the central United States.

However, the Hamilton County community will maintain its long-term sister-city relationship with a Chinese city following scrutiny by an Indiana congressman.

Mayor Sue Finkam sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Heartland China Association Gov. Bob Holden that said Carmel would not renew its $25,000 annual membership with the organization.

“My focus is on the needs and priorities of Carmel residents, and I believe the $25K annual membership fee paid for by taxpayers can be used more appropriately,” Finkam said in written remarks. “Additionally, given the myriad of concerns Congress has regarding this organization, it affirms the decision we had already made to withdraw.”

Carmel will keep its 12-year sister-city relationship with Xiangyang, Hubei, a week after Finkam said she would review Carmel’s sister-city agreements.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, called on the city of Carmel to withdraw from its sister-city agreement with Xiangyang and to refuse trips organized by groups linked to China’s ruling party.

“Our sister-city relationships around the world, like the one with Xiangyang, provide great cultural value to our residents, including the many freedom-loving Chinese Americans who call our great city home,” Finkam said.

Former Mayor Jim Brainard is vice-chair of the U.S. Heartland China Association. The not-for-profit founded in 2003 as the Midwest China Association is focused on building ties between China and the 20 states across the center of the country between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.

Banks wrote a letter to Finkam after the Washington Post published a story about China’s focus on diplomacy with local U.S. leaders. The article featured a U.S. Heartland China Association-sponsored trip Brainard took to China in October with five other U.S. mayors. During the tour, the Republican mayor ratified a sister-city agreement with Xiangyang that was established in 2012.

Banks raised questions about China’s motives, writing that such sister-city agreements have forced American politicians to “endorse [the] one-China policy and to oppose policies that could harm China.” The policy maintains that Taiwan is part of China.

Finkam succeeded Brainard this month after he left office following 28 years as mayor.

In addition to Xiangyang, Carmel has sister-city agreements with Kawachinagano (Japan), Cortona (Italy), Jelgava (Latvia), Visakhapatnam (India), Rueil-Malmaison (France) and Seiffen (Germany).

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4 thoughts on “Carmel ends membership with organization that sponsored China tour

  1. All ties with China should be terminated. It’s not the Chinese people in our communities that are part of our communities and are law abiding, hardworking people, it’s the regime that they escaped from. it’s the CCP.

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