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 consulate general in Chengdu, and his Thai wife Dusadee Haymond in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan province. Photo provided to China Daily

"Aside from full-time American students, there is also a steady stream of young Americans coming to western China to teach English while also studying Chinese. I am not surprised that many of the junior US diplomats now coming to China previously studied or taught in China before they joined the Department of State and began their diplomatic careers," Haymond says.

Chengdu touches US heart

Learning the local nuances

Chengdu touches US heart

Not an easy task translating laughter

Haymond enjoys applying lessons from Chinese history and literature to his experiences. He has a particular fondness for a well-known poem by Wang Wei from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), which depicts somebody seeing off a friend on his way to a border area in northwestern China.

Two lines from the poem read: "Friend, I want to persuade you to empty one more cup of liquor before you leave; west of Yangguan Pass you will have no old friends."

"I see this poem as being very applicable to the life of a diplomat, who must leave home and familiar surroundings to go and live with people of different language and culture. But I have found that a diplomat's life is a life of meeting new people, and a life of being enriched by new friends from around the world. So, by contrast to Wang Wei's famous line, I have found diplomatic life to be a "west of Yangguan Pass you will have new friends" experience," says Haymond who became a diplomat in 1991.

Haymond has visited the Jianchuan Museum Cluster in Dayi county, Sichuan, several times. The Flying Tigers Museum is of particular interest to him.

"Any two countries, and particularly two countries with very different histories, different cultural traditions, and different forms of government, are likely to have areas of disagreement. I believe, however, that China and America have many more areas of agreement and common interest," he says.

"The US Environmental Protection Agency visits China regularly to meet with its Chinese counterpart, and vice versa. The US has some experience in gradually reducing air pollution in major cities during the late 20th century, usually by enacting and enforcing more strict controls on what pollutants can be emitted by factories and automobiles.

"Hopefully China can learn from the successes and mistakes of other countries which have gradually improved their air quality, for the benefit of the Chinese people," he says.