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Jon Huntsman meets the press in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on June 7 2013 with the accompaniment of his wife and two adopted daughters. [Huang Zhiling/chinadaily.com.cn]
The economy of western China is getting more of the world's attention, and the region has more visitors as a result, former US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said on June 7.
Huntsman made the remarks in an interview with chinadaily.com.cn at the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, Sichuan province.
The last time Huntsman visited Chengdu was three years ago. He said he found that the city of 14 million people is changing rapidly.
Sichuan, which has a higher population than France, is an important manufacturing center. Its economic size and high-caliber universities make the province important, Huntsman said.
He cited Sichuan University, which has co-operated with the US in many fields, as an example of Sichuan's potential.
Each company needs good employees, and universities in Sichuan could meet the need, he said.
More US politicians are visiting Sichuan and not just Beijing and Shanghai, he said, adding that there should be more visits between cities and states in Sichuan and the United States.
Huntsman said that Utah's economy thrived during his tenure as governor of the US state. He believes Sichuan, which is also in the hinterland, is a land of promise.
He said he considers Sichuan's hosting the Fortune Global Forum important. CEOs from many multinationals attended and will make long-term business decision in the province, he said.
"I have faith in Xi's leadership and reform," he said.
Huntsman held a discussion featuring China's soft power with Yukon Huang, a senior associate of Carnegie Endowment's Asia Program, and Zhao Qizheng, vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Right before the discussion, he told the local media that China's soft power came from his speaking of Chinese, his daughters' visit to giant pandas in Chengdu and his own like for Sichuan delicacies such as double-cooked pork and spicy ma po beancurd.
Huntsman was accompanied by his wife, Mary, and two daughters - Grace, 14, and Asha, 7 - during his meeting with the local media.