When an energy CEO rates China's open-door policy as a bigger stimulus to the country's development than oil and natural gas, he must mean it.
And the meaning can be more profound when that rating is given by the vice president of the US oilfield equipment company, Global Energy Services, who has been watching China develop through not only trips but also in-person cooperation for the past 22 years.
Carlos Kenda told Xinhua in a recent interview that it was the country's opening-up policy that had led China to fast close its gap with the developed countries in the world.
The country back in 1987 was "quite far behind" by Western standards when Kenda set foot on China for the first time, for a "short" but "wonderful" trip to its northeastern oilfield of Daqing, the CEO recalled.
There was no airport expressway. A road led to downtown Beijing where he saw very few cars but "an ocean of bicycles" on the streets. "Everyone was wearing the same clothes. Everyone was in gray and blue. They looked like uniforms.
"That's my first impression of China," Kenda said.
After a hiatus of a decade, Kenda returned to China in 1997 and his visits increased with shortened intervals, climaxing in a seven-year stay in China when he moved his family to Beijing.
"There were tremendous changes between 1987 and 1997," Kenda said, "in the way people dressed, the amount of vehicles on the road and the buildings."
As the representative of the leading US oilfield equipment company, National Oilwell Varco, Kenda saw his company's business grow in China, from a small operation to a number of joint ventures.