May 16th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
5 years ago

Utah governor named China envoy

President Obama announces Saturday his pick for U.S. envoy to China, Jon Huntsman, who talks to reporters.
President Obama announces Saturday his pick for U.S. envoy to China, Jon Huntsman, who talks to reporters.

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.

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Filed under: China
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. shelby

    Oh yeah, get this guy as far from the US as possible, so he can't be a threat.

    May 16, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. kent

    Let us hear the GOP find fault with this appointment.

    May 16, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    This Republican will bring badly needed credibility to the Obama-Pelosi-Frank government.

    May 16, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. kent

    We are listening. GOP...are you out there?

    May 16, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. Alan in Marietta

    Dick Cheney will announce that Huntsman is no longer welcome in the GOP. Limbaugh will call him a couple of names.

    May 16, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Paul

    2012 is going to be a loss for the Republicans, and whichever candidate they put up will be a sacrificial lamb. If Huntsman waits for 2016, however, he's got a pretty good chance of being president. And he is an excellent choice for China.

    May 16, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Harold

    Better check with RUH.. boy on this.. this dude is a moderate.. or maybe old RUSH is glad to get him out of the country. ...too bad republicans... a moderate someday against.,,,,,, old RUSH......

    May 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. Lynn

    How many potential rivals does CNN have for President Obama? Has Huntsman ever said that? Why would a seemingly very intelligent, accomplished man set himself for the hate and characterization of the Rush base and the media??

    Why not use the article to give more details about the qualifications of the man like that he speaks Mandarin?

    May 16, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. Rod

    For the first time in my voting life I can honestly say we have a true leader as President. How many examples of "transcending the pettiness of politics" is he going to have to accomplish, before his opposition (which continues to self destruct) figures out what makes this individual special? Keep supporting him, majority of you voters. He certainly deserves our support.

    May 16, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. annie for Palin

    So now bo has eliminated hillary and another potential for 2012 and he still hasn't come off the campaign trail! Most of us are getting a little tired of all the campaigning and all the ignorant spending! Even bo said you can't borrowing from china. That came out of one side of his mouth while the other side of his mount was saying give me more china borrowed money to spend on pork barrell projects!

    May 16, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. phoenix86

    The governor should decline. Obama's envoys are there to carry the white flag, nothing more.

    May 16, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Results not Rhetoric

    Huntsman is the type of moderate, sensible Republican that GOP leaders like Limbaugh, Cheney, Gingrich are trying to chase out of the party.

    Huntsman, like Colin Powell, has opted to serve in foriegn affairs rather than fight against partisan idealogues in his own party.

    He'll be the 2016 Democratic nominee at this rate.

    May 16, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Ex-republican

    Great move, Mr. President!
    And, let see what repugs will say on this!

    May 16, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. HEIDI

    If he can do the job, why not!! Our relationship with other nations should go beyond policitcal affilication.

    May 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. Paula

    Obama is paying lawyers to hide his birth certificate. We know that fact because his lawyers answers to suits all over the country are public record. There’s nothing crazier than a President hiding his birth certificate. People need to know that fact.".

    May 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Great pick based on this man qualifications to speak Mandarin Chinese which is very respectful to the Chinese people.

    May 16, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Joe the Troll

    Go ahead, folks. Tell us more about how Obama can't reach across the aisle.

    May 16, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. Obama supporter

    Paula wrote:
    Obama is paying lawyers to hide his birth certificate. We know that fact because his lawyers answers to suits all over the country are public record. There’s nothing crazier than a President hiding his birth certificate. People need to know that fact.".
    ____________________________________________________
    Will people like you ever give this a rest. The President has been in office 3 months now and you still come up with the same old tired useless statements. Will you say this for the next four years. No matter what he does people like you will come up with something. He can't even put mustard on his hamburger and there's an issue.

    May 16, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. Ravi

    I am so proud of our President!!! Not since Lincoln have we seen a US president try to reach out across the aisle with such persistence. Please Republicans, cut President Obama some slack and start being less hostile.

    May 16, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Joyce Becker

    Very smart, he will be so busy in China that he will have no time to even think about running against such a popular and successful president.

    May 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. Sniffit

    he's probably the only politician that can speak fluent Chinese;

    most can't even speak fluent English

    May 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Kristin

    Nice move. I wonder what the hateful republicans will spew about it. I guess I will have to watch Hannity Insanity hour to find out what they will all regurgitate about this.

    May 16, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. avahome

    Terrific pick......... Qualified people should represent the US....not do for me as I do for you mentality. Go Huntsman!

    May 16, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Kristin

    To Paula May 16th, 2009 11:20 am ET
    Are you serious? I think you missed some of your morning meds dear. I also think you should be on the DHS list to be watched because you are WAY to paranoid and obviously delusional. Watch out the sky is falling!!!!

    May 16, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. Sarah

    Gov Hunstman is an excellent pick, and has shown himself to be a true statesman. I hope he'll consider running for President someday.

    By the way, Paula and Annie are idiots.

    May 16, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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