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

Utah governor named China envoy

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Clifford in New York

    Might as well go to the other side of the aisle and appoint a Republican since the Democrat's can't seem to pay there taxes and have been all around embarrassments!!

    May 16, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. GOP Disaster

    I see that the hateful wingnuts are at it again by calling him a RHINO! Keep up and you would have completed the destruction the GOP!

    May 16, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Purple Spider

    This fighting between Republicans and Democrats and politics is destroying everything in its path! If Huntsman is fluent in Chinese and is familiar with International business, then Obama's selection was a sensible one to choose him to be Ambassador to China.

    May 16, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. alvino

    He could not run for president as a republican, anyhow, since he is a moderate. Rush and Cheney would have kicked him out of the party.

    May 16, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. alvino


    Have you been asleep for over two years? Your statements have been proven untrue time and again. Try calling Obama a socialist, maybe that will work for you, as it seems to be resonating with 21% of the population.

    May 16, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. madison

    I'm a Republican, but did vote for Obama. He did a wonderful thing today, I think I'm beginning to like him even more! I'm also proud that the media isn't making a big deal about the fact that Huntsman is mormon. Maybe we're all starting to grow up a bit? Progress one step at a time....

    May 16, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    This is a prime example of why I did not vote in the presidential election this cycle. Obama is spineless. Look for a conservative democrat to be nominated to the court. Obama is too much of a coward to fight the Republicans. What a disgrace.

    May 16, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. alvino

    I am sure some senator from the party of "NO!" will hold up his confirmation.

    May 16, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. AJ

    It's Obvious that Obama supporters are the mirror image of the G.W. Bush supporters, he can do no wrong. I don't understand it. China is a HUGE diplomatic post and he's hands it to a Republican. What a revolting human being Obama is. Had we wanted republican rule, we would have elected a republican.

    May 16, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. suresh

    Did he get GOP GOD Rush's permission to accept the position? I will not be surprised if in a couple of days, he backs out. It has happened before with other appointments.

    May 16, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Ron

    Kudos to President Obama for selecting the most qualified candidate for the job, not his best friend of biggest campaign contributor like we are used to seeing is in Washington.

    Best of luck to Mr. Huntsman, China is a growing nation that will soon be the only superpower if don't work with them and open the doors of communication and transparency. For the sake of our nation I wish him God's speed.

    May 16, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Mike in Texas

    Paula is a troll. She is leaving the same tired crappy post in every ticker. Such a sad pathetic soul.

    Remember Paula, You are entitled you your own opinions but not your own facts.

    Try being a lover not a hater for once.

    May 16, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. mike

    This was a smart political move for Pres. Obama. If the economy doesn't get better, Huntsman could have been a decent challenge in '12. This now makes any future criticism Huntsmen may level at obama in the future ring hollow. Cant just work for the guy, enjoy the benefits, and then criticize the guy when your running for president.

    May 16, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. S Callahan

    i think this is a wonderful decisoin. This man is schooled in the cultural of China...he actually did his missonary work there, speaks the primary language....has a previous political backgroun enabling him to communicate the US message in a sensitive but direct way..etc I appeciate his service. Congratulations.

    May 16, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. jad

    Man, we'll miss him here in Utah. Hands down the best governor we've ever had. He's the first republican I've ever voted for.

    May 16, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. S Callahan

    ps...he is a great potential candidate for the next Presdient...but he is also gifted in lots of areas that can be a benifit to our country......
    besides ....if it is meant to have a good Republican will happen regardless who he assigns whereever.

    May 16, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Andi

    Of course. It's part of Obama's evil plot to remove all republicans from this country......will you GOP folks get a grip. You all keep posting how you're 'sick' of the President getting so much media attention (which is pretty normal for a President), you're 'sick' of the spending, you're 'sick' of everything and anything, and now you are complaining about one of your own being chosen for a top sensitive diplomatic post. Sick sick sick. Maybe if both sides can get healthcare hammered out, you'll feel 'better', but somehow I doubt it.

    May 16, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. ray

    lets keep putting people in your adminstration who can defeat you next election like Hillary and Biden that is the only smart thing he has done. get rid of the compitition and look good doing it. maybe he can put pelosi somewhere but wait she is more of a liar then he is

    May 16, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |

    What a pick....this guy plays chess, while others are playing checkers...Sec. Clinton, has quote a roster of envoys to work with.....President Obama, keep moving, keep fighting.....the American people are still behind you!!!

    May 16, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. ray

    reach across the aisle. are you kidding me what bill has passed with republican support NONE. appointing republicans does not reach accross the aisle make. get real he is not doing a good thing he is protecting himself

    May 16, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Libertarian in AK

    I'm no fan of Obama (maybe worse than Bush?) but this is a great appointment, good, very good.

    May 16, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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