By Maurits Elen
Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich backed former US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, in his views about the US their relationship with China. The support comes after Mitt Romney attacked Jon Huntsman on his service in Beijing in their most recent primary face-off.
Gingrich told reporters it was a little bit narrow-minded of Governor Romney to use that kind of attack:
“There are plenty of things that we can argue about without impugning the motives of somebody who has served this country at considerable personal inconvenience.”
“Governor Huntsman had lived for years in Asia, speaks fluent Chinese, is extraordinarily prepared to be the American ambassador to China and I suspect at that point he took it as a citizen” out of a sense of duty.”
Huntsman said that the wealthy entrepreneur Mitt Romney attacked him for ”putting my country first” during a time when Romney was raising funds to establish his presidential campaign.
“He criticized me, while he was out raising money, for serving my country in China, yes, under a Democrat, like my two sons are doing in the United States Navy. They’re not asking what political affiliation the president is.
I want to be very clear with the people here in New Hampshire and this country: I will always put my country first.”
According to Kenneth Lieberthal, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institue Huntman’s ambassadorship to China however will turn out negative in the primaries:
“The people who vote in the Republican primaries tend to be to the right of the center of gravity of the party. Huntsman will be advised to put considerable distance between himself and China, and will likely avoid the issue. The polls currently suggest that his experience in China will actually harm him in the conservative segment of the race.
It’s the core issue, and one of such dramatic importance that it will dominate the election. While there are arguments that tie China into our fiscal challenges, the reality is that the US and Chinese economies are deeply interdependent and no responsible candidate would propose any great change to our current policy. Further, if Huntsman wins the candidacy, how would Obama criticize Huntsman when Huntsman’s experience in China was in carrying out Obama’s own policies?”
More about Jon Huntsman on Shanghaiist here.