Chengdu touches US heart

Updated: 2014-05-20 09:42

By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

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Chengdu touches US heart

Peter Haymond, consul general of the US, at the consulate's library in Chengdu. Huang Zhiling/China Daily

People meeting Peter Haymond for the first time are often impressed by his Chinese name, Mengde, a moniker that hints at his deep understanding of Chinese culture.

Chengdu touches US heart

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Mengde was another name of Cao Cao (AD 155-220), a hero from the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280) and a historical figure well-known to every Chinese.

Haymond first read the English version of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a classic Chinese novel from the period, while he was studying Chinese in the United States in 2002.

He loved the novel so much that, the first time he visited Chengdu in 2004, he left the airport and went directly to the Temple of Marquis Wu. The temple is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, prime minister of the Shu Kingdom, and the personification of wisdom in China.

In September 2011, Haymond started working as the US consul general in Chengdu, Sichuan province, a role he holds to this day.

To Haymond, exchanges between China and the US should be not only on a governmental level but also between people of the two nations.

He hopes more people from the US will choose to study in western China and more people in western China will travel to the US for education.

In the past year, the US consulate general in Chengdu has issued nearly 83,000 non-immigrant visas, an increase of around 70 percent from three years ago.

"We have just completed a major renovation at the consulate that more than doubles the number of interview windows in our visa section. With the new workspace and with new visa officer positions at the consulate, we are prepared to issue up to 200,000 visas annually in Chengdu in the future," says Haymond in the newly-renovated library in the consulate opposite its visa section.

Haymond's consulate issues visas primarily to applicants in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, Chongqing municipality and the Tibet autonomous region.

The number of Americans studying in western China has increased significantly since 2011.

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