September 27, 2023

ST. PAUL, Minn. (July 26, 2017) — A gift exchange between the city of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the City of Changsha, Hunan Province, China, will occur in 2018 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this sister-city relationship, according to the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society.

The City of Changsha will present to Saint Paul a replica of Changsha’s famous Aiwan Pavilion, one of four famous pavilions in China, to be installed at the Saint Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden at Phalen Regional Park. The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society will present Changsha a set of five statues of Peanuts characters, to be installed at Yanghu Wetlands Park in Changsha, the sister park to Phalen Regional Park since 2015.

“It is only fitting that this gift exchange culminates with the approaching 30th anniversary of our Sister-City relationship,” said Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul. “The garden will honor our bond as international partners and connect the Minnesota Hmong and Hmong ancestral home of Changsha, China. This gift exchange will be a symbol of our global community ties for generations to come.”

George Latimer was mayor of Saint Paul at the time the sister city relationship was established in 1988.

The replica pavilion will lay the groundwork for the Saint Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden. Other elements include an entrance arch, a donor wall, a Hmong Embroidery Wall representing the historical connection between the Hmong in Minnesota and the Hmong in the Changsha area, and a site for a future cultural gift from the Changsha Hmong. Subsequent phases will include a Hmong Cultural Plaza and a Lakeside Pavilion with a covered walkway and an arched bridge. Phalen Regional Park is also home to the Meditation sculpture, created by internationally renowned Changsha sculptor Master Lei Yixin, creator of the Martin Luther King Jr. Stone of Hope Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“This is a great project that will not only draw people to visit and spend their money on the East Side but also strengthen our international relationship with China,” said Saint Paul City Council member Dai Thao. “Thank you to all the staff and community leaders who brought this project to life.”

The China Friendship Garden is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project. The conceptual designs for the garden were made possible by a Legacy Fund grant of $50,000 and an in-kind donation of $30,000 from the Changsha architectural team, Jennifer Fan Junfang and Jon Wen Youhua, of Hunan Jianke Landscaping Company.

“We thank all those who have worked tirelessly for many years to make this dream a reality and are grateful to Dr. C.C. Hsiao, one of our founders, whose vision continues to guide us from above,” said Linda Mealey-Lohmann, president of the MN China Friendship Garden Society.