WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama announced Saturday that his choice for U.S. ambassador to China is moderate Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who expressed some surprise at the appointment.
A national co-chairman of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, Huntsman said he didn't expected "to be called into action by the person who beat us.
"But I grew up understanding that the most basic responsibility one has is service to country," the 49-year-old governor said at the White House, just after Obama's announcement.
"When the president of the United States asks you to step up and serve in a capacity like this, that to me is the end of the conversation and the beginning of the obligation to rise to the challenge."
The Senate must confirm his appointment.
Huntsman, who is in his final term as Utah's governor, is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and is a former trade representative and ambassador to Singapore.
His family has an adopted daughter from China. The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper has reported that Huntsman has performed Mormon missionary work in Taiwan.