US First Lady' Chengdu trip highlights importance of the western China city

Chengdu No.7 High School Photo: Rebecca Lin/

Arriving at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport to cover the trip of US First Lady Michelle Obama, I found the famous tourist destination in west China disappointedly shrouded in smoggy and bleak air.

The overcast sky naturally makes people feel low and not very welcoming. I just hope the Obamas would not feel the same way.

On my way to the city center, I chatted with cabbie. “I know the US First Lady is coming. Foreign leaders come to Chengdu these days, because I think, they want to hug the pandas,” he said, with a serious look, “but they also bring traffic jam.”

Chengdu has really become a hot destination for foreign leaders these years. And the reason is not just because of the famous Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in the city's countryside.

Actually, Chengdu has successfully risen to become the fastest-growing city in central China. It's believed that if a foreign country would like to grasp as bigger market share of China's burgeoning economy in the west, the first thing that must be done is to work with businesses in Chengdu.

Nearly all major countries have consulates in the city and more and more multinational companies and influential guild organizations are also setting up offices.

Ms. Obama and her family is about to stay in Chengdu for two days, with one day mainly scheduled for visiting the No. 7 Chengdu High School and the other for panda breeding base.

In the morning of March 25, I went to the campus of No. 7 Chengdu High School on Linyin Avenue. It was seven o'clock in the morning, and two long lines of students queued outside the gate for security check. They complained that even if the US First Lady was visiting the school, they should be trusted to get into their own school.

Around 9AM, nearly several hundred police officers marched into the campus and people living in the neighborhood told me it was absolutely unusual because they never get to see such heavy police force being posted at a time.

Chengdu No. 7 High School is not only the top high school in Sichuan province, but could definitely make into the list of China's top high schools. It is well known for its online education, in which through high-tech equipments, classes are videoed and posted online for those schools in the remote or poverty-stricken areas of China.

Besides that, a parent whose daughter is attending the school told me that the educational system is quite open and western in the school. “It encourages students to develop themselves in a more wholesome way. Our kids are allowed to have varied club activities. Most other schools could not afford that, because they care more about exams and worry that participation in so-called irrelevant courses would hurt their enrollment rate.

When Ms. Obama left and students were released from the campus at noon, I talked to several teenagers for some details about their impressions bout Michelle Obama and her open remarks. “She is really graceful and tall,” one girl said, “I hope one day I could become someone like her.”

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