A delegation from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region visited New York on Saturday and promoted mutual understanding and communication in discussions with overseas Chinese communities' leaders, local cultural organizations and local think tank scholars.
"If you haven't been to Xinjiang, you have no idea how big China is," said Zuo Feng, deputy director of the Human Rights Affairs Bureau at the State Council Information Office. "It's better to see it once than to hear about it a thousand times."
In a discussion hosted by the East Coast Federation of Chinese Associations, Zuo said the delegation aims to promote understanding of Xinjiang.
"We hope to increase people-to-people exchanges and cultural cooperation, and deepen understanding and friendship between our two peoples," Zuo said.
Zuo discussed recent Xinjiang developments in economy, education, transportation and culture, China's stance on human rights issues and the implementation of ethnic and religious policies in the region.
Zou said that with the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, China will fully employ Xinjiang's geography as a window to the West.
"Xinjiang plans to create five centers, including a regional transportation center, a trade logistics center, a financial center and a regional medical center," said Zuo.
James Heimowitz, president of the China Institute, who once visited Xinjiang, said he was impressed by its progress. He suggested the delegation send artists, writers and scholars to exhibitions and forums in the US to enhance understanding.
"The only way to develop friendship is through a deeper trust, and the way to have deeper trust is to have a deeper understanding through language, culture and business," Heimowitz said.
The delegation held discussions on Thursday and Friday in Houston.
At one, former Asia Society Texas Center chairman Charles Foster said discussion would help researchers to better understand China's ethnic and religious policies.
Beena George, dean of the Cameron School of Business at St. Thomas, said: "It is helpful for our regional researchers to have the opportunity to have frank face-to-face exchanges with Chinese officials and scholars. I think it is very wise for China to pay close attention to these issues, because ethnic, religious and cultural environments are important to local long-term economic development and business cooperation."