Welcome to the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association!

The purpose of our organization is to promote business, cultural understanding, and friendship between two of the world’s most dynamic cities, Houston, Texas, and Shenzhen, China. As members of Sister Cities International, an organization established more than 60 years ago by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, we believe that face-to-face meetings and personal relationships are vital to fostering peace and prosperity between our people.

Most large cities across the world have sister cities. Houston, in fact, has some 18 sister cities, and they include such far away destinations as Baku, Azerbaijan, Nice, France, and Perth, Australia. One of Houston’s longest relationships is with Shenzhen, a city, like Houston, that has enjoyed long periods of economic good times.

Shenzhen was once just a cluster of poor villages surrounded by rice paddies on the Pearl River next door to Hong Kong. In 1979, then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping designated it as the country’s first special economic zone. He wanted to give to give full-throttled free enterprise a try. The experiment exceeded all expectations, and Shenzhen has probably grown faster than any city in history. Today, it is an industrial megacity with dazzling architecture and a population now three times greater than Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio combined. It’s also China’s Silicon Valley and its factories churn out every technology component imaginable.

In 1986, a Houston-Shenzhen Sister Cities program took shape and trade, cultural, educational, and medical exchanges became a regular feature of the two cities. At present, the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association operates out of the Mayoral offices of both cities. In Houston, the organization is lead by elected president Jim Olive, an international known corporate and environmental photographer.


To promote Friendship, Business Networking, Culture & Art, International Trade and Understanding between the people of Houston and Shenzhen.

The origin of modern diplomacy was in the relations between cities. Today, cities are our conduits for world trade, our main communicators of culture, the homes of those with the strongest ethnic contacts with other countries and a proven training ground for future world leadership. The sister cities program helps to provide a means by which all of these important assets can be made more meaningful.” – Henry Kissinger

Houston established its first sister city in 1963 and has added 15 more sister cities since then. Houston is a member of Sister Cities International and therefore complies with all SCI rules and regulations. HSSCA programs encompass a wide variety of areas, including trade, education, culture, and the arts. HSSCA objectives also include promoting Houston internatinoally, increasing tourism and trade, and stimulating pride in ethnic heritage.

Houston and the city of Shenzhen, China, have engaged in cultural, educational, social, and economic exchanges since 1984. The Houston-Shenzhen Sister Cities program was formalized in 1989 when then Shenzhen Mayor Li Hao and a delegation traveled to Houston to attend the signing ceremony establishing a sister city relationship between Houston and Shenzhen as signed by then Mayor Kathy Whitmire. Shenzhen is not only the sister city of Houston, but also its sister port. A similar relationship exists between HSSCA High School for the Performing Arts (HSPVA) and the equivalent Arts Academy of Shenzhen.

In 2000, the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association, led by the efforts of President Dan Nip and a delegation of Houston citizens, raised $300,000 for a sculpture called the Shen-blue Sculpture which was presented as a gift from the people of Houston to the people of Shenzhen. Jesus Moroles has trained Chinese sculptors in his Texas studio, some of whom have returned to contribute major public art works to the thriving cultural life of China. Robert Avalon, who trains young composers at HSPVA and is Artistic Director of Houston Foundation for Modern Music, will create opportunities for an exchange of young composers between Shenzhen and Houston.

The exchange between the two cities is blossoming and it is hoped that the Garden of the Spheres and its related musical component will increase teh goodwill and understanding not only between the two cities, but also between the United States and China.

City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting presented by Reliant December 2, 2016. (photo by Richard Carson)

City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting presented by Reliant December 2, 2016. (photo by Richard Carson)


  • Oct. 2002 Dan Nip led a business delegation to participate the 4th China High Tec Fair in Shenzhen.


  • Aug. 2002 organization president Dan Nip and HSPVA principal led a 12 student group travel to Shenzhen to participate a one week summer program with youths from 17 countries, the “Voyage Towards Friendship” which is sponsored by the Shenzhen Youth Federation.


  • May 2002 Invited by the Mayor of Shenzhen and the Shenzhen University, association president Dan Nip accompanied Rice University provost Dr. Eugene Levy visited Beijing U, Tsing Hua U, Beijing Medical U and Shenzhen U and Hong Kong Science and Technology University to discuss cooperation opportunities. Rice U and Shenzhen signed a training agreement for their senior municipal employees.


  • Oct. 2001 Organization president Dan Nip led a 5 company delegation to participate in the 3rd China High Tech Fair in Shenzhen.


  • Jun 2001 Mayor of Shenzhen, Mr. Yu Youjun led a delegation visited Houston. Mayor Lee Brown and some city dignitaries hosted a welcome dinner for the mayor. While in Houston, Mayor Yu visited Rice University, NASA and other points of interest. Mayor Yu invited Rice University officials to visit Shenzhen University.


  • Nov. 2000 The Shenzhen sister city association welcomed two delegations. The first delegation, from the Shenzhen Eye Hospital, was in Houston Oct. 26 to Nov. 6 visiting the Eye Institute at Baylor Medical College and the Eye Hospital at Hermann Hospital. They are looking into establishing a “sister hospital” agreement. The second delegation from the China Hi Tech Fair was in Houston Nov. 17-19 to meet with hi-tech company representatives. The association hosted a dinner in their honor.


  • October 2000 President Dan Nip and a 30 plus delegation of the Shenzhen sister city association traveled to Shenzhen in October for both the Shen-blue sculpture unveiling ceremony and the Chinaa High-Tech fair. The Shen-blue sculpture was a gift from the people of Houston to the people of Shenzhen, and the local sister city association raised over $300,000.00 to pay for the sculpture and its shipment to Shenzhen. In this trip, HSPVA principal Mr. Herb Karpicke signed a “Sister School Agreement” with the Shenzhen Art School to do exchange programs in the future.


  • June 2000 An 80-member delegation from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) traveled to Shenzhen and two other Chinese cities to perform and tour China. Don Kobos from Channel 13 accompanied the group and prepared a documentary of the trip to broadcast on the 6:00 p.m. news. The deputy mayor of Shenzhen, Mr. Guo Rongjun, visited Houston for business meetings and met with Council Member Boney. In this trip, Deputy Mayor Guo signed a “Cooperation Memorandum” with Texas Medical Center. The sister city association also continued fundraising for the Shen Blue sculpture project that has been on display in downtown Houston since May 2000.


  • June 1999 The association sponsored and hosted a youth basketball team from Shenzhen to attend a month long basketball camp at Rice University.


  • October 1998 By invitation of the Shenzhen City Govermnent, the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association led a delegation that included Council Members Felix Fraga and Annise Parker to Shenzhen and other Chinese cities.


  • August 1998 Mayor Lee P. Brown and Sister City Association president Dan Nip were named an honorary citizen of Shenzhen, an award that Shenzhen only presents to a select group of people.


  • June 9, 1998 The Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association held a press conference to announce the “Houston Select All-Star China Tour 1998,” August 11-14, featuring a team of 10 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball players, including 3 Rice Owls. The team, led by President Dan Nip traveled to China to play basketball games in Shenzhen and several other Chinese cities. Willis Wilson, head men’s basketball coach at Rice University also traveled to Shenzhen as did a small business delegation.


  • May 1998 The City of Shenzhen included a letter from Mayor Brown to the citizens of Shenzhen and information on Houston in their sister city photo album.


  • March 1998 The HSSCA contributed artwork from students at the Hua Xia Chinese School for the Sister Cities of Houston Program for Young Artists.


  • April 16-19, 1997 Executive Vice Mayor of Shenzhen, Mr. Li Decheng, and a delegation of Chinese officials, businessmen, and the youth soccer team, visited Houston to participate in the Houston International Festival. They met with Council Members Saenz and Kelley. The Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association coordinated a soccer match between Shenzhen and Houston soccer teams and participated in a reception and photo exhibition “The Success of Shenzhen” as part of the festival.


  • Locally, the HSSCA adopted the Port of Houston Elementary School and participated in the Children’s International Festival.


  • April 1996 The HSSCA adopted the Port of Houston Elementary School and participated in the Children’s International Festival.


  • October 27-29, 1995 Deputy Mayor of Shenzhen, Mr. Wang, visited Houston and attended the Consular Ball honoring China. He was seated with Mayor Lanier.


  • October 18-29, 1995 Mr. Guoming Ren, Deputy Division Chief, Department of Foreign Affairs, Shenzhen, was in Houston to advance visits of Mr. Wang in October and Mayor Li Zibin in November, and to attend the Consular Ball honoring China.


  • July 20-23, 1995 The Houston Ballet performed in Shenzhen during their tour of China. Sonia Garza and Nancy Hawes (Asia Society) did a protocol/cultural briefing for the ballet.


  • April 1995 The HSSCA adopted the Port of Houston Elementary School and participated in the Children’s International Parade.


  • March 23-25, 1995 Vice Mayor of Shenzhen, Zhang Hong Yi, was in Houston for groundbreaking of the Chinese Gateway into Chinatown. Mayor and Mrs. Lanier, and Council Members Saenz, Wong, Reyes, Fraga, and Driscoll attended the groundbreaking.


  • June 26-July 1, 1994 A Houston delegation, including Mr. James Chou, President of the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association; Mr. Dan Nip, also of the sister city association; the football teams of Strake Jesuit and Episcopal High Schools; and Ms. Helen Chang, Mayor’s Office, visited Shenzhen to attend the annual Lychee Festival and participate in an exhibition game of American football. Over 35,000 spectators and 1,000,000 television viewers in China watched the game.


  • June 28-30, 1994 A Shenzhen media delegation visited Houston to learn about Houston’s waste management and education.


  • April 1994 The HSSCA adopted the Port of Houston Elementary School and participated in the Children’s International Parade.


  • October 13-15, 1993 A Shenzhen media delegation visited Houston to learn how our media functions.


  • February 1991 Mayor Sheng Liangyu of Shenzhen led a delegation to Houston on an economic and goodwill visit.


  • October 1989 Shenzhen Mayor Li Hao and a delegation traveled to Houston to attend the signing ceremony establishing a sister city relationship between Houston and Shenzhen. Mayor Whitmire signed the agreement.


  • August 1985 Bill Bownds Nursery donated a pecan tree to be planted in Shenzhen.


  • June 1985 Shenzhen’s Deputy Mayor, Zhen Xi Pei, visited Houston. A preliminary agreement of a sister city relationship was established.


  • November 1984 Ms. Barbara Goldfield, Director of Protocol and International Business Development for the City of Houston, traveled to Shenzhen to initiate a sister city relationship.