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Interview: Xi Jinping's visits to U.S. town of Muscatine memorable occasions: mayor

(Xinhua)    15:01, September 15, 2015

MUSCATINE, the United States, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's visits to Muscatine before he took office were memorable occasions for the U.S. town, and his upcoming visit to the United States later this month will be a success, the town's mayor told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Muscatine, located in the United States' central state of Iowa with a population of 20,000, is mainly known as a place where the U.S. writer Mark Twain worked and lived, and Xi had visited the town twice before he took office in 2013.

Indeed, Xi's visits have bridged the past and future of the Sino-U.S. relationship.

"He is forward-thinking. I was impressed by his demeanor and his facial expressions, just impressed with him as an individual," Muscatine's Mayor DeWayne Hopkins said.

Hopkins said Xi was warmly welcomed in Muscatine and that "he has a unique and charming character."

In 1985, Xi visited Muscatine with a Chinese delegation when he worked in Zhengding, Hebei Province. "It was his first visit to Muscatine and to the United States," Hopkins said.

Hopkins experienced Xi's second visit to Muscatine in 2012, when Xi was vice president of China.

"It was a rainy day. He came to the Landes' residence; there were a lot of friends from 1985. They sat around the living room and told stories which they remembered from 1985," Hopkins said."In an hour and 15 minutes, they had a great time together, and I think he scheduled (to stay) here only less than an hour."

Xi talked to everyone, Hopkins recalled, and everyone was reluctant to part when he had to leave. "We appreciated his visit so much, and we are still talking about that visit today."

"There were citizens outside and news media outside. Even though it was a rainy day, it was a glorious day for Muscatine," he said.

After Xi's 2012 visit, Muscatine and Zhengding established a sister city relationship with student exchange programs, so that"many American students have the opportunity to study the Chinese language and Chinese culture," Hopkins said.

He noted that in the fields of education and culture, Muscatine maintains close contacts with Zhengding and some other places in China.

Moreover, Hopkins said that conversations, either via the Internet or over the phone, with each other will promote mutual understanding between the two peoples.

"As President Xi said, the peoples of the two countries ... are both hard-working, friendly and have the same virtues," Hopkins said. "We are willing to develop friendly relations with China, to establish a really good-feeling relationship."

In July, Hopkins attended the opening ceremony of a Muscatine culture center in Jinan, capital city of China's Shandong Province. The center aims to show the town's history and folk customs through pictures and videos, and Chinese visitors are able to experience the Midwestern American lifestyle and learn about local economic development and agricultural technology.

"The relationship between China and Muscatine continues to grow stronger as time goes on and when my time as mayor of Muscatine is done, I will look back with pride at all that I have assisted in accomplishing," Hopkins said.

Muscatine has named the house where Xi stayed during his visit to Muscatine in 1985 the "Sino-U.S. Friendship House." The official opening ceremony of the friendship house will be held later this week.

"President Xi has said, 'To me, you are America.' And we always remember that," Hopkins said. "We still enjoy the fruits of that statement he made."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Chun,Bianji)

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