With the serious concerns of Republicans over the current field of competitors for the 2012 presidential nomination, former governor of Utah and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman may be a standout leader. Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin, has a vast store of insight and knowledge of the Chinese people and China’s history, government and economy. This ambassador had the wherewithal and courage to attend the Jasmine Revolution protest in Beijing, just last February. In leather jacket and sunglasses, the ambassador smiled at one demonstrator and said he was "there just to look around.” The Wall Street Journal was among those that remarked it is indeed rare for an ambassador to attend an anti-government protest in China.
Huntsman has had a lifetime interest in Asia, and the Far East (Jon Huntsman was ambassador to Singapore in the administration of President George H. W. Bush). Huntsman points out the vast numbers of farmers, no longer needed in farming, being transitioned by the Chinese government into other areas. He points to the billions of Chinese living in desperate conditions. He alludes to a Chinese stimulus the cost of which was in the trillions of dollars. He sees the Chinese government moving from military to civilian leadership; it is, he says, a government rich with creative entrepreneurs. Huntsman, in an interview with Charlie Rose in late 2010, said a weakness of China is the inability to resolve business disputes. He noted that China has concerns about increased wages damaging the national economy. The lack of freedom of speech, Huntsman notes, brings about criticism, thus instability. He quotes a saying in Mandarin that translates, “In China we also have politics.” The former ambassador praised uniqueness in every nation.
In December of 2010, Huntsman was concerned about the Chinese navy venturing beyond their sphere of influence in the South China Sea and in the Indian Ocean. While China must keep supply lines opened, and must protect its economic interests, China feels, according to Huntsman, that growth is only possible if a regime is stable and predictable. Sovereignty is high on the list of Chinese priorities. Sometimes, according to Huntsman, they go too far: in a naval encounter with Japan, the Chinese navy took the commander of the Japanese vessel into custody. Huntsman notes the United States and China have the two largest economies and the two largest militaries in the modern world. America should welcome China’s rise, he affirms, but would appreciate more transparency, more adherence to the Rules of the Road. Huntsman goes on to say, “Language is the lens that cracks the code of culture.” China values investments in the U.S., in the areas of plant property and equipment, and these investments are likely to continue. China recognizes that the United States still has the top market in the world.