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A sculpture in Hance Park titled 'Maternal Love,' showing a panda and her cub, was given to Phoenix by its sister city of Chengdu in China. Some critics worry about Chinese government influence on sister city programs, supporters say they can build the people-to-people relationships that governments cannot.

Though the relationships between most sister cities center on student exchanges, citizen diplomacy can step up and fill the gaps left by national politics, as was on display when Phoenix Sister Cities Vice President Rick Gerrard made the connections that led to receiving 100 N95 masks for Gilbert first responders from its sister city, Leshan, China. Read more»