The Assistant to the Mayor of Beijing, Mr Zheng Yijun visited Wellington in November 1994. The visit was followed by a reciprocal visit to Beijing by David Watt, Wellington's deputy mayor at the time. A 'friendly city' relationship was set up in 1994.
Based on increased interaction between Wellington and Beijing, the cities agreed to become sister cities. During the Sister Cities New Zealand 25th Anniversary Conference in May 2006, this relationship was formalised. Kerry Prendergast, then Mayor of Wellington, and the Deputy Mayor of Beijing, Mr Sun Anmin, signed an official Wellington-Beijing Sister Cities agreement on 10 May 2006.
The Beijing relationship is important as it links Wellington to the capital city of one of the world's giant economies. Beijing is the political, economic, social and cultural centre of mainland China.
There has been a very active link between the two cities, including:
- visits by civic and business delegations
- mayoral visits
- teacher training exchanges
- cultural festivals
- exchanges dealing with earthquake technology
- local government training in Wellington for officials from Beijing.
In February 2005, Wellingtonians were treated to a fireworks display to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The display was a gift from Beijing.
It was the longest fireworks display Wellington city has ever seen.