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Jon Huntsman’s China Problem

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This week, LearnChineseBusiness.com published an article titled “Exclusive Interview With Gov. Huntsman’s Chinese Intern.” While it attracted a modest readership, it was nowhere near as popular as a negative story might have been. The Chinese intern interviewee, who wished to remain anonymous, had only good things to say about the presidential candidate, and was obviously impressed with his ability to speak Mandarin Chinese.

Learning Mandarin Chinese is no easy feat. In fact, it’s ranked as one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. There are more than 50,000 characters, and a contextual and tonal complexity that takes years to master. Anyone who has successfully proven a proficiency in the language, especially these days, when China is approaching her zenith, should be hailed as a rare asset. Add to that feat, a long line of political accomplishments, which include serving as governor of Utah and the U.S. ambassador to China, and you stand before a human marvel. But Americans aren’t seeing Huntsman in the white armor he’s earned; to many, he’s wearing China red, and conspiring with the dragons. Despite his outstanding international experience, Huntsman has effectively been demonized because of his China connection, and is being referred to maliciously as “China Jon” and a “Manchurian Candidate.”

Just last week, as Huntsman made his way toward South Carolina, where, a New Yorker article reports, “The South Carolina Department of Commerce says Chinese companies have invested $307.8 million in the state.” But, even with U.S. states like South Carolina benefiting from trade ties with China, anti-China sentiment threatens to undermine candidates like Huntsman who openly embrace China as an ally.

China is an easy target for many Americans who over the last decade have read about the mass loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs to cheap labor countries like China, and even more recently about severe hacking and intellectual property attacks against critical U.S. interests originating from the mainland. And many feel the U.S’. hegemony is in danger of being replaced in the next ten to fifteen years by China’s vast economic engine. Plus, as the U.S. begins to withdraw military forces from the Middle East, it announces intentions to reinforce its presence in the East. So, it’s easy to see how the average American, whose standard of living and future outlook has gone from 100 mph to a roadside stall, can feel anything but animosity for China and anyone who steps up to the podium as a would-be president mocking a failing America in Mandarin quips against fellow American presidential contenders.

Before the American public, Mr. Huntsman embodies the China that has allegedly crippled the American dream, and no matter how clever his linguistic offensives, using such tactics will inevitably associate him with the opposition rather than the solution to America’s economic ills.

Could Truman have defeated his adversaries at the beginning of the Cold War through strategically timed strokes of linguistic genius? In Russian? Even when most of America openly prides itself on having a global outlook on trade, and deep appreciation for diversity, every syllable Mr. Huntsman utters in Mandarin reminds voters that it’s almost impossible for them to buy anything that’s made in the USA anymore, and even worse, that unless something changes, the whole country may be speaking Mandarin in the next fifty years.

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  • Donna

    What are our biggest challenges’s moving forward; what are they as they relate to South Carolina? We have lost countless jobs overseas; specifically to China and India. Most of these loses were in large part due to our current regulatory climate, not a cost of labor and certainly not due to worker productivity.
    We need to create a climate whereby repatriation of jobs from China and India is possible. Isolationism will inhibit that ability. We need someone who understands the culture in Asia and the business community here and what the needs of our businesses are; we will be in “head to head” combat with Asia and they will not easily give up their foothold in our economy. I read recently that the preservation of their work force is directly tied to their ability to control their citizens; that is probably the most important point from the People’s Republic of China; control of their citizens. I know there are a lot of good candidates out there and I know that Dr Paul is a very wise man but China is and will remain a big problem for us; if you do not realize it then you are living in a cave or under a rock.
    The Chinese do not play by the same rules; they steal our Intellectual property, they limit who can go to college, they basically force their people into work camps and make their people live thousands of miles away from their families in dorms while paying them less than 3000 bucks per year. If you have ever lived and worked there you know what I mean. They limit their population through forced abortions and if you do not comply you are forced into paying fines in excess of 2000 dollars per child. In larger cities, when you walk outside you can barely breathe and when it rains it is like mud is falling from the sky. It is a human rights nightmare.
    We cannot be isolationist; we must recognize our problems with China and address them head on. I do not think the Chinese government will let go of the manufacturing base we have established there easily and I think our intellectual property will be at risk.
    We need someone like Jon Huntsman; not someone from Congress who hasn’t had a real job in years and has no executive experience. We do not have time for experiments or intuition.
    Huntsman is right; China is and will remain a big problem for us. We cannot become them. When I hear folks from the Obama administration or the OWS crowd singing the praises about Mao, I think to myself, surely they are just ignorant. What else could it be?
    We will need to repatriate business from China and this will not be easy
    Thank God that we have a candidate that understands that. Now we just need to get him elected.

  • John

    This is where the sad state of the uninformed American voter shows itself. In a time where rhetoric is more important than substance, too many voters make decisions by soundbite or by listening to media pundits who feel the need to tell us which candidates are viable.

    Huntsman’s experience dates back to his work for Ronald Reagan, and he also has Trade Rep and Ambassador experience under both of the Bush administrations. His experience with China and the Pacific Rim should be considered a huge asset – there is no doubt this area is going to deman much attention in the coming years, and a President who has deep a understanding of the region is going to have a huge advantage.

    People should be afraid of the Trump/Romney approach that comes from their limited knowledge of foreign affairs. China holds a significant amount of the U.S. debt, and they have the potential to be a massive market for American exports. Slapping on tarriffs and entering into a trade war as Romney proposes may give people a warm fuzzy for a few minutes, but in the end is only going to hurt our country – especially at a time when our economy is weak and unprepared for a trade war.

    Huntsman’s experience with the Pacific region also shows itself in other areas – whether discussing India/Pakistan, Africa, or the Middle East it quickly becomes apparent that he is head and shoulders above other candidates in his knowledge and ability to dissect issues and deliver an educated and thoughtful analysis based upon the realities of the world we live in.

    When you take Huntsman’s wildly successful Governorship, his private and non-profit experience in executive management, his 30 years track record of consitent conservatism, and his unquestioned, skeleton-free integrity, and then add on his foreign affairs credentials – he easily becomes the most qualified GOP candidate by far. Simply put, in an era where loyalty to party or self so frquently comes before service to country, Huntsman is the type of statesman our country so deparately needs in this most trying of times.

  • Igor

    #1-Donna is just silly in this assertion:

    “Most of these loses(sic) were in large part due to our current regulatory climate,…”

    There is NO regulatory reform possible that would allow American workers to compete with nickel-a-day chinese workers.

    Donna’s foolish assertion just comports with 2012 Republican talking points, but not reality.

  • Igor

    2-John presents a very good case for the Republican party to nominate him for president. I’d be inclined to vote for him in the general election. But I suppose the reps are just too deep in the political crap that goes on behind closed doors and they will seek a candidate that appeals appropriately to their cherished factions.

  • RedWhiteBlue

    Looking at the system of choosing leaders in America, as perhaps an off-planet alien first arriving on Earth: Every few years, perfectly coiffed politicians get into open TV contests to see who can best carry soundbites, and who can best tell lies (campaign promises being such a well recognized oxymoron, NOBODY expects actual delivery of these promises). Based SOLELY on such performance and pageantry, “aided” by dirty, demagogic attack ads (based mostly on fear and prejudices) for months on end, society decides on who gets to assume power and lead. After they take office, the “leaders” take care of their real constituents – those who paid.

    Review what you experienced in the last few months of Republican rah-rah, and tell me honestly whether that is true.

    Huntsman would seem like an excellent choice from America’s standpoint, as he understands how to deal with China (probably not from China’s standpoint, again BECAUSE Huntsman understands China better than any other politician). But Huntsman does not have the slightest chance of getting elected as the next president.

    Maybe, just maybe, if Biden resigns, and H. Clinton is moved up to the VP slot (now that would be a ticket), then after President O starts the 2nd term, Huntsman can be Sec. of State, and then resign in the 3rd year to earnestly run in 2016.

  • RedWhiteBlue

    Think of it this way:

    In China, the Chicoms are deadly afraid that if they do not improve the lives of the Chinese citizens, they are in mortal danger of being overthrown, and the leaders in the way of physical harm.

    In America, the pols are concerned, but not deadly concerned, that if they do not raise enough money, they are going to lose the elections and lose power – and the personal wealth that comes with that power. Losing the election is not the end of the world though, as the revolving door policy (now evolved into the inverse revolving door policy) ensures that they will still make very comfortable living as lobbyists and captains of industry. That is, once the pols are “in”, they are set for life.

    Now judging objectively, WHICH set of pols are more likely to listen to the people and act to improve the lives of the largest number of citizens, and which will cater more to the will of the real constituents (the paying kind) to the detriment of the hoi polloi?

  • jamminsue

    Huntsman is the one candiate with the chops to beat Obama, thus the Dem’s are pleased as punch he won’t be a serious contender.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    jamminsue – I strongly agree, and that’s precisely what the progressive pundits said was Obama’s political reason in behind choosing Huntsman as our ambassador to China.