“I’m just passing by.”
On Monday, we expressed skepticism at reports suggesting US ambassador Jon Huntsman was present at the Jasmine non-Revolution in Beijing.
But Holy Angel Moroni! A video has now surfaced of him standing right outside McDonald’s on Wangfujing, the location of the would-be protests, with a pair of shades and a leather jacket sporting the US flag.
In the 1:30″ clip (see video after the jump), a Chinese man in the crowd calls out to him, “Hey Mr Ambassador, what are you doing here?”
Huntsman responds, “I’m just here to look around.”
The Chinese man asks, “You want to see China in chaos, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t,” came the reply.
The Chinese man then turns around to everyone in the crowd and starts telling them that he is the US Ambassador, at which point Huntsman realises, uh oh, I’d better get myself out of here. Huntsman is then seen shuffling away, with his entourage in tow.
The video then ends with the exclamations in angry red speech bubbles, “Yes, China has many problems! Reform, livelihoods, morality, faith — our problems are many! But we don’t want to be another Iraq! We don’t want to be another Tunisia! Nor another Egypt! If the nation should descend into chaos, will the US and these “reformers” put food on the table for our 1.3 billion people? Don’t f*cking mess with it! Don’t f*cking mess with it! Don’t f*cking mess with it!”
The US Embassy has since clarified that the ambassador’s presence at Wangfujing that fateful day was “purely coincidental”. Said US Embassy spokesperson Richard Buangan to the WSJ, “The Huntsmans were on a family outing and happened to pass by Wangfujing. They realized what was going on and immediately left.”
[Editor’s note: Huntsman’s adopted daughter from China, Gracie Mei, is visible in the screengrab above, but Shanghaiist is unable to confirm who the other people in his entourage are.]
When asked if the embassy was aware of the protest, Buangan declined to comment but confirmed that Huntsman walked through Wangfujing again later on in the day on his way home to see what was going on (!!!).
Did the ambassador really not get the “Jasmine Revolution” memo? Apparently, that’s what the Embassy would like to have us believe.
Meanwhile, Chinese conspiracy theorists are now busy putting forth the idea that Jon Huntsman, and the United States, are the real masterminds behind the “Jasmine Revolution”. See, for instance, this article published on the new site M4.CN (English translation here, h/t Danwei), the latest incarnation of the nationalistic Anti-CNN.com (remember them?)
If you think that Jon Huntsman is shielded by the Chinese government’s desire to stamp out all information on the Chinese interwebs related to the Jasmine Revolution, then you’re wrong. The post has been allowed to circulate on Sina Weibo and other Chinese portals.
In contrast, if you were to search for “希拉里” (Hillary Clinton) on Chinese microblogs now, you would get the error message “According to relevant laws and regulations, the search results may not be shown.” Apparently, “Hillary Clinton” has become a sensitive term here after the US Secretary of State said that China and other countries like Syria face the “dictator’s dilemma” in their censorship of the internet and that the US would help fund projects to help people evade government internet controls.
In any case, one thing is certain now. If Jon Huntsman should ever become the president of the United States some day, the Jasmine Revolution episode will come back to haunt him.
UPDATE: US ambassador Jon Huntsman now a sensitive term on Chinese microblogs