Golden Horse Memorial Archway in the City of Kunming
History of Sister City Relationship
Denver, Colorado and Kunming, China became sister cities in 1986 when Denver Mayor Federico Peña signed an official agreement. Denver’s eighth sister city, Kunming has an altitude of 6,200 feet and is famous for its year-round floral displays and mild, temperate climate. Over the years there have been frequent and wide-ranging exchanges representing medical, cultural, media, and educational fields between the two cities.
In 2021 Kunming and Denver held a virtual celebration of our connection In this special event themed – Gateway to Outdoor Adventure – both cities celebrated their shared love for natural beauty and outdoor activities. Speakers from both cities shared how each city protects the natural beauty of their cities, supports outdoor recreation and tourism while instilling a love of the outdoors in youth.
Region: Southwestern China. Capital of Yunnan Province.
Population of Kunming: 6.67 million
Population of China: 1.398 billion (2019)
Spoken Languages: Kunming (dialect), Mandarin Chinese (national)
Kunming: Of Interest
- Kunming is known as the “City of Eternal Spring” because of its year-round temperate climate.
- Kunming is on the northern edge of Dian Chi, one of China’s largest lakes, a picturesque area dotted with ancient temples near the Western Hills.
- Kunming and Yunnan are home to twenty-five of China’s fifty-six ethnic minorities, fourteen of which are unique to the province. This makes Yunnan Province one of the most diverse regions of China.
- The proximity to the Chinese side of the Himalayas, tropical areas near Southeast Asia, and some of China’s most beautiful terraced rice fields make Kunming and Yunnan a major tourist destination.
- Kunming and the United States formed close ties during World War II. It was headquarters for the famous “Flying Tigers” and an American airbase. It was also the terminus for the Burma Road and landing site for the perilous “Hump” flights between China and India.
- Kunming is the major transportation and economic link between China, Southeast Asia, and India.
- Opening in 2012, the Changshui International Airport is the 4th largest in China.
- A new city center in the suburb of Chenggong has a population of approximately two million and is the location of the city government and fourteen universities.
Kunming – Denver Relationship
- For much of Denver and Kunming’s relationship, former Flying Tiger and long time Chair John H. Yee was integral to helping the two cities build a strong relationship and inspiring a tradition of dedicated volunteers passionate about working to link the two cities. To honor Mr. Yee’s passing in 2019 at the age of 97 and to continue his legacy the John H. Yee Scholarship Fund was founded to support student educational travel to Kunming. For more information about the Scholarship Fund and to make a donation, please visit: HERE . We welcome and appreciate all donations.
- Kunming, Denver, and Nairobi were chosen to be collaborators on the Sino-African Initiative Grant awarded by Sister Cities International for a pilot project to address urban poverty in Africa through tri-lateral relationship building. In 2013, the efforts of the three cities resulted in completed renovations at the Madaraka School in Nairobi, primarily adding flush toilets, and greatly enhancing the water supply to the school.
- Several high-level government exchanges and delegation trips have been held between the two cities. Some of the most notable exchanges include Mayor Wellington Webb visiting Kunming and the Secretary-General of Kunming visiting Denver.
- In 2011, Denver hosted the 25th Anniversary Celebration and accompanied trade talks. This marked an important milestone for the Kunming-Denver sister city relationship.
- The “Eternal Good Fortune” Peacock sculpture was a gift from the Kunming Government celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Denver-Kunming Sister City relationship. One of China’s most famous artists, Yuan Xiao Cen, crafted the sculpture. The sculpture portrays a family of peacocks and signifies the people of Kunming’s wish for Denver to have good fortune, and their hope that the friendship between the two cities and nations will continue to last through the generations. This beautiful and impressive artwork (1.5 tons, measuring 15’ long, 6.5’ high, and 6’ wide) can be viewed at the Denver Zoo’s Carousel Meadow.
- Sister Cities International selected Kunming and Denver to be recipients of the award for “Innovation,” which was presented at the China-U.S. Sister Cities International Conference in Washington, D.C. in March of 2014.
Kunming Committee Contact Information
Committee Co-Chair: Jeanie Johnson
Committee Co-Chair: France Addington-Lee
Phone: (303) 832-1336
Representative Kunming Committee Activities
- Monthly committee gathering with like-minded people interested in China.
- The Kunming committee organizes local and global events to bring friends of Kunming together. This includes hosting an annual traditional Chinese New Year Banquet, picnics, and Autumn Moon Festival celebration in the City of Kunming Park.
- The committee makes educational presentations as part of the City in Suitcase program.
- In 2013, Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks led a delegation of city officials and committee members on an exchange visit to Kunming.
- In 2018 the Committee organized an Art Exchange to Kunming. The works of 12 Colorado artists were shown in at the prestigious Wenlin Gallery in Kunming.
Kunming – Resources
Official website of the city of Kunming.
This website details articles, general information, and tourist information about the Kunming area.
News article about Denver resident John Yee, the last living member of the Flying Tiger World War II mercenary.
Wonderful video of Kunming put out by the Kunming Tourist Bureau. (Website in Chinese).