Huntsman

I know the world is holding its breath waiting to hear my comments on the nomination of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman as US Ambassador to China:

I think he’s a great choice (note:  though I don’t know him personally).  I have opined in this blog that what we need in Beijing is a heavy political hitter who is smart and open-minded on China.  Huntsman’s sole shortcoming is a lack of deep Congressional experience.  On the other hand he:

  • Is a Governor and rising star in the Republican party.  The former underscores his political savvy and weight and the latter will hopefully help ensure we pursue a bipartisan approach to China (remember the outrageous Republican smear campaign against the Clinton Administration over alleged laxness on satellites and nuclear weapons technology transfers to China (aka The Cox Commission Report)?  Ugh.  Hopefully Huntsman can help us avoid having China used for such dishonest and damaging partisan attacks.)
  • Knows China and speaks Chinese.  I have made the case that knowledge of China and Chinese language are not the most important qualifications for Amb. to China, but it certainly is a very welcome plus, on top of the political smarts and stature that Huntsman brings.
  • Knows well the bilateral trade and investment issues that are near and dear to my heart.  In addition to understanding the impact of international trade from his on-the-ground perspective as governor, he previously served as Deputy US Trade Representative.  Prior to that he held the job that was my last position in the US government, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Asia (and anyone with experience in that job has to be great).
  • Has diplomatic experience as US Ambassador to Singapore.  Significantly, I know some career Foreign Service Officers who served under him there.  Career folks can be pretty skeptical of politically-appointed ambassadors, but the folks I know had great respect for Huntsman for his external efforts with the Singapore government and his management of the Embassy.

Now let’s just hope that:

1)    Congress acts quickly on his nomination

2)    He gets a terrific DCM to help him manage the sprawling US mission in China

3)    The Chinese government takes advantage of the Obama Administration’s great choice to work with him to advance issues critical to both our countries.

Note:  among the many pieces now re this appointment, I found the following ABC News piece interesting for the quotes from a speech Huntsman gave a couple of years ago on China: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/05/president-oba-8.html

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