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Obama Names Republican Governor As China Envoy

President Barack Obama has chosen a potential Republican presidential contender as the U.S. Ambassador to China. Governor Jon Huntsman of the Western state of Utah has extensive foreign policy experience in East Asia.

Governor Huntsman has recently been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2012, thanks in part to his moderate agenda and his support for environmental issues.

But President Obama said he chose Huntsman to be the U.S. envoy to China because of his background and his understanding of the important relationship with Beijing.

“What Jon brings to this post is not just a steadfast commitment to advancing the interests of the American people. It is a lifetime of knowledge and experience that will help advance this important partnership," said the president.

Huntsman has been a deputy U.S. trade ambassador and an ambassador to Singapore. He speaks fluent Mandarin, having been a Mormon missionary in Taiwan. And he and his wife have two adopted daughters from China and India.

Mr. Obama said his nominee for the post will represent America's principles while respecting Chinese views.

"That is the kind of ambassador we need in China-an ambassador who has a respect for China's proud traditions, who understands what it will take to make America more competitive in the 21st century, and who will be an unstinting advocate for America's interests and ideals," he said.

Huntsman has spoken in the past about the need for the United States and China to work together on the environment. He said he looks forward to working with Chinese officials on that and other issues.

"You have my commitment that we will take the U.S.-China relationship to new heights, focused not just on that which divides us, but more importantly, on that which unites us," he said.

Huntsman thanked the president for the nomination, and recalled one of his favorite sayings in Mandarin.

"'Together we work, together we progress.' This, more than anything else, I think, captures the spirit of our journey going forward," he added, saying the first few words in Mandarin.

If he is confirmed by the Senate, Huntsman will succeed Clark Randt, who has been the U.S. ambassador to China since 2001.