A PERFECT MATCH? ... The intricate courtship between Palo Alto and Yangpu, a district within Shanghai, started to get serious in September, with the Bay Area Council playing the role of a matchmaker. The two entered into municipal matrimony in September, when leaders from each side signed an "intention agreement" pledging to explore "mutual economic interactions to enhance the economic health and betterment of their respective communities and enterprises." This was followed by a November honeymoon that sent City Manager James Keene, Mayor Yiaway Yeh, Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd, soon-to-be Councilman Marc Berman and Economic Development Manager Thomas Fehrenbach to Yangpu for a frenetic, highly structured tour of Yangpu, a district of about 1 million people that is now transitioning from its traditional role as a hub of manufacturing to high-tech innovation. As part of the trip, Palo Alto's elected leaders and top staffers visited Yangpu's main businesses and universities, mingled with their Yangpu counterparts, sampled local cuisine and wowed their hosts with their mastery of chopsticks. "It really was an adventure sometimes to dive into some of the graciousness that took the form of tentacles and other such things," Yeh said at the Dec. 3 council meeting, recalling the dining experience. They also got to ride China's high-speed-rail system, which Shepherd described as "very smooth and very fast" (though she also recalled an episode at a truck stop, when the group heard a high-speed trail go by, and recounted it as being "extremely noisy"). Now, officials are looking for ways to take the relationship to the next level. On Monday night, the City Council will watch a presentation of the recent China trip and consider various proposals for partnerships between Palo Alto and Yangpu. According to a new staff report, these could include a student exchange program, an internship program involving companies in each region and collaborations between companies in the Stanford Research Park and those in the Yangpu Digitization Park.
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