Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quote of the Day: US Ambassador Jon Huntsman

When Barack Obama was elected president, us here in Beijing wondered who would be the next ambassador to China.

Even when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came for a visit in February, there still was no official word.

However, the announcement finally came on May 16 that Republican Utah Governor and potential presidential candidate for 2012 Jon Huntsman Jr would come to Beijing.

He is well suited for the job, as he speaks Mandarin that he learned in his time in Taiwan in the late 80s, and has even adopted a girl from China.

And during Obama's first trip to China, Huntsman was there to advise the president on how to navigate the sometimes murky waters of the Chinese leadership which is for the most part opaque.

In a recent press report, Huntsman praised Obama for his ability to engage the Chinese, saying how the administration was trying to "connect with the Chinese bureaucracy in ways that actually allow us to get traction... There was a good level of connection with all of the counterparts."

Then Huntsman observed that China is changing so fast: "If you were here 10 years ago and you're coming back for the first time, you don't know China," he said. "If you were here two years ago and back again, you still don't kow China. It is changing so quickly and it is so dynamic that you've got to stay connected constantly to get a sense of what this means in terms of the future of China."

Which leads us to the Quote of the Day.

Huntsman admitted after three months of being here he wasn't much of an expert, and didn't think others were either.

"I've come to the conclusion that 'China expert' is kind of an oxymoron. And those who consider themselves to be China experts are kind of morons," he said.

Does that mean he is dissing off the many people who have studied China for decades, written books, dissertations and given lectures and are quoted in the media because of their expertise are morons?

Or was that an off-the-cuff remark that was meant to be off the record?

1 comment:

gung said...

huntsman is a good choice for his job. that is one of the smart move on the part of obama when he chose his cabinet. hope this will open the door for better sino-american relationship- no more containment.