Jon Huntsman Jr. nominated as U.S. ambassador to China

By Ric Bohy

May 16, 2009 at 3:04pm

President Obama seems to have pulled off a slick three-fer today in announcing his nomination of Republican Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. as U.S. ambassador to China.

First, Huntsman, 49, has solid diplomatic credentials, having served as President George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to Singapore and U.S. trade ambassador for President George W. Bush. He learned to speak fluent Mandarin earlier in life as a Mormon missionary to China, and adopted his daughter from China.

Second, it was a high-profile display of Obama’s pledge of bipartisanship, albeit a choice that reflects many Democratic values in a moderate Republican who almost routinely rocks the ribs of the GOP’s never-say-die ultra-conservatives.

Jon M. Huntsman Jr.
Jon Huntsman Jr.

Third, and most significant politically, if Huntsman is confirmed it will effectively remove him from contention in an Obama re-election bid in 2012, at the same time pulling the only moderate out of a field of potential GOP candidates who play insistently to the party’s supposed base.

One significant example of Huntsman succeeding as a moderate among conservatives was the easing of Utah’s restrictive liquor laws to promote tourism, a move resisted by the state’s large Mormon population.

He also has endorsed civil marriage for gays – although he supported a successful amendment to his state’s constitution banning them in 2004 – and is a strong voice for environmentalism – especially in joint efforts with the Chinese.

If his appointment is accepted, Huntsman will replace Clark Randt as ambassador.

He is the son of Jon M. Huntsman Sr., founder and chairman of Huntsman Corp., a global chemical manufacturer and marketer.

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  • #1.   Max 05.16.2009

    Governor Huntsman learned Mandarin as a Mormon missionary to TAIWAN, not China.

  • #2.   TonyP4 05.17.2009

    Never use our yardstick on human right on a developing country like China.

    American contributes more pollution per capita than China esp. some pollution is caused by manufacturing for global consumers.

    We can build carriers powered by two nuclear generators and China cannot build helicopters. What a joke!

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