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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Locke: Encouraging more Chinese to U.S. helps boost bilateral ties

By Han Shasha (People's Daily Online)

16:29, April 13, 2012

Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China, made an online communication with Chinese netizens at the Qiangguo Forum, People’s Daily Online, on the afternoon of April 13, 2012.

People's Daily Online: You have taken the visa as a top priority since you worked here as the U.S. Ambassador to China. What’s the purpose of the action? And what role it will play in Sino-U.S. relationship?

Gary Locke: One of the key things about improving the U.S.-China relationship is to ensure that more Chinese people are able to travel to the United States whether on business, or for tourism, or for study. We welcome more Chinese coming to America.

When they come to America, it presents an opportunity for the American people to learn more about the Chinese people and the Chinese people to learn more about America. Certainly, if we are not able to help Chinese get a visa in a timely fashion, if it takes too long, if it is too bureaucratic, if it is an unpleasant experience, why do they come to the United States? They could more easily go to Canada, or France, or Germany. We think that it is our self- interest in term of business and in terms of fast people-to-people relationships to make it more convenient for the Chinese people to get a visa.

I have been an ambassador for the last seven, eight months. Facilitating visa process has been a top priority for me. It was a matter of concern for me when I was a Commerce Secretary, or even as the governor of Washington. Now I am an ambassador, I can actually do something about it. And I have to say our focus as the U.S. Embassy and all of our consulates throughout China have really step up and really perform inerrably. In just the last five months, the average time to get the appointment for your visa has been less than six days comparing to 22 days a year ago for the same five months period.

We have been able to reduce the waiting time despite the fact that the men for the visa has grown up by 50 percent. Fifty percent more people applying for visa than the year ago and waiting time to get that appointment for a visa has dropped from 22 days to less than six days. And we have done all without adding any new staff. In fact, in the last couple of weeks, the average waiting time throughout all of China to get that appointment for your visa has been two to four days comparing to the same period of time a year ago, it was closely about 60 days.

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