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US China Envoy Hints at Presidential Campaign

Jon Huntsman, the U.S. Ambassador to China in Tibet (FILE).

Jon Huntsman, the U.S. Ambassador to China in Tibet (FILE).

A leading U.S. news magazine says the American ambassador in China may be thinking of challenging U.S. President Barack Obama in the 2012 elections.

Newsweek magazine says Ambassador Jon Huntsman refused to rule out a run for president in 2012, during an interview in mid-December. It quoted unidentified associates of Huntsman saying he discussed the prospects of a run with former political advisers while in the United States for the Christmas holiday.

Such a move would likely require Huntsman to return to the United States from Beijing sometime this year. Even before that, it would complicate his relations with senior officials in Washington.

Huntsman, a member of the Republican party, was governor of the western state of Utah when Mr. Obama, a Democrat, named him as ambassador to Beijing in 2009. The appointment was seen as an attempt at bipartisan cooperation, but some analysts suggested Mr. Obama was seeking to get a potential rival out of the way.

Newsweek quotes Huntsman saying he is "really focused" on his responsibilities in Beijing. But he also says, "We won't do this forever, and I think we may have one final run [for office] left in our bones."