Blackburn Exposes Chinese Partnerships Across USA

April 18, 2023

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), along with Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), introduced the Sister City Transparency Act to create a Government Accountable Office (GAO) report on sister city partnerships in the U.S. Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Sister cities exist ostensibly to promote cultural exchange and economic development. However, the Chinese Communist Party has begun using these partnerships to achieve geostrategic objectives.

“Sister city partnerships are one of Beijing’s favorite political weapons. Across the globe, Communist China has exploited these relationships, ostensibly to promote cultural exchange. The truth is that these partnerships are much more sinister and are part of the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative to achieve geostrategic goals,” said Senator Blackburn. “It is imperative we shed light on these partnerships to determine whether they leave American communities vulnerable to foreign espionage and ideological coercion.”

View or download Senator Blackburn’s video.

“The CCP has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted. I’m proud to co-sponsor The Sister City Transparency Act that requires additional review of our procedures to ensure we are not enabling malign foreign activity by increasing much-needed oversight,” said Senator Marshall.

“China is a threat to the United States, and we must have proper oversight and review of practices over sister city partnerships,” said Senator Tillis. “With proper insight, we can see the true nature of these partnerships and mitigate the risk of any corruption or destructive activity. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this legislation to protect our cities from any potential threat of espionage the Chinese Communist Party may impose.”

“As China continues to be the top threat to U.S. national security, we must assess the risk and increase the transparency of our sister city partnerships with Chinese cities. This bill would shed light on these partnerships, so we can counter the CCP’s growing influence and protect American communities from malign activity,”said Senator Braun.

“It’s embedded in the Chinese Communist Party’s DNA to exploit cultural and economic partnerships. As such, sister-city partnerships with China require further scrutiny. This bill would push for greater transparency on the CCP’s on-going efforts to conduct influence operations upon our cities and nation,” said Senator Rubio.

"The Chinese Communist Party is a direct, existential threat to our country; we need to start acting like it. For too long, the CCP has been hiding behind the veil of diplomacy to engage in espionage and push propaganda,” said Representative Chip Roy. “The need to ensure that U.S. city partnerships with Chinese cities are not exploited, and that they don't threaten our national security and prosperity should be obvious to anyone paying attention."

The Sister City Transparency Act Would Order a Government Accountability Office Report To:

  • Identify the oversight practices that U.S. communities implement to mitigate the risks of foreign espionage and economic coercion within sister city partnerships.
  • Assess the extent to which foreign communities could use sister city partnerships to conduct malign activities, including academic and industrial espionage.
  • Review best practices to ensure transparency regarding sister city partnerships’ agreements, activities, and employees.



  • The United States maintains 1,800 sister city partnerships with countries worldwide, including 157 partnerships with Chinese communities.
  • The CCP hides behind soft diplomacy and mutual benefit until its foreign partners exhibit political nonconformity. Thus, similar to Confucius Institutes, sister city partnerships may leave American communities vulnerable to foreign espionage and ideological coercion.
  • There currently exists little information regarding sister city partnerships operating within the U.S. – not least because such partnerships generally fail to publicize information regarding their agreements, activities, and employees. The opacity of sister city partnerships impedes proper oversight and could enable malign activity.
  • Lin Songtian, President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, characterizes sister city partnerships as critical to cooperation “under the framework of the [Belt and Road Initiative]”. The CCP recently revealed its political motivations in the Czech Republic, where the BRI’s promise of economic opportunity lured Prague into a sister city agreement with Shanghai. But Shanghai terminated the agreement in January 2020 – along with its myriad economic benefits – when Prague’s mayor refused to commit to the CCP’s “One China” policy.

Click here for bill text. 

Click here to view Senator Blackburn’s work taking on Communist China.