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Jon Huntsman to China

This is the smartest piece so far that I've read on Obama's pick for ambassador to China.

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Comments (15)

cscree Author Profile Page:

Really??? - in 2010 and 2012 no "moderate" has a chance as a Republican. With the economy, jobs, and the national future in the toilet, the most conservative candidate will be looking good.

Twitter me @TaoLee for China blurbs

dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

It is silly to think that Americans have to learn Mandarin in secret, while almost every Chinese wants to learn English. If you go to Asia, most people want to speak English to us so they can practice it with a native speaker. There is nothing wrong with that. Everyone is happy with better communications.

Lots of problems stem from the lack of cultural understanding. The more foreign languages all of us can speak, the better it is for the world peace. It's ridiculous for some to speculate one's intention to learn Mandarin. I would be very glad if more people want to speak English. Practically, I doubt China will ever send to the US any ambassador that cannot speak English. Why are you afraid of Ambassador Huntsman's Mandarin? Are you going to start using Russian around him now? This is very pitiful.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To thomascanada,

But American started first, like John Pomfret started Separatism battle on China, and started bashing first!

thomascanada Author Profile Page:

Perhaps instead of being a bunch of snobs about language proficincy, why not consider that there are major issues to resolve at hand for all of us. Smoldering ruins for lungs that heave to breathe might be avoided if the People will stop jerking one another around over senseless pride of Nationalites. The Environment Stupid! It is about all the children in the world. If we, in this current generation do not resolve the pollution issues, Our children will neither have the will or the resources to even hope to save our Species. Species meaning human species, not American or Chinese or any other Nation's name.
Wake up and smell the Pollution!

xxxxPandaAtWar Author Profile Page:

Of course Huntsman can't speak fluent Chinese. Even for a native Chinese, as long as speaking other language most of the time for several years, he/she even needs some time to adjust to fluent Chinese again.

This event is more a reflection of subtle attitude of Obamanism towards China, which is a combination of fear and respect. Someone, or anyone knows something about Mandarin would be a great strategic asset in light of this subtle mentality. Just look around the cabinet: Geithener, Energy Secrtary Chu, Ms Clinton (she looks like speaking Madarin though, but definitely got an undisputed Chinese connection). Now we have Huntsman. Who will be the next?

I start to wonder if administration cabinet has a collective secret Mandarin class from time to time. Yes, surely they can!

arkon Author Profile Page:

Huntsman quoted a Chinese aphorism at the end of his acceptance speech, and then said it in English as "Together we work. Together we progress." Wrong translation!

vwam Author Profile Page:

the article spends more time speculating on 2016 than the interim.

Observer88 Author Profile Page:

Haha, all this talk about how fluent he is, is really beside the point. First of all, good hosts would recognize his competency with the Chinese language, not bicker over how good a speaker he is. In America we tend to respect when someone has bothered to learn our language, even if they are not perfect speakers of English, which is difficult to learn to speak perfectly, because of all the exceptions to the rules. Sure, most people can pick up enough to get by, but it is rare to meet someone that wasn't born here that is fluent. But so what?

Besides, whether or not Mr. Huntsman speaks Chinese perfectly matters not. What is important is his genuine interest and knowledge of the region. For an ambassador from the United States, the Chinese government should welcome such a partner.

mburns6 Author Profile Page:

He better cover up - reports of swine flu finally breaking through into the heart of China. It's good, though, to see a quick replacement following all the people passed over. There's a lot about this over at Asia Chronicle, www.asiachroniclenews.com. New place, worth checking out.

water57 Author Profile Page:

i am a native Chinese, i am almost listening VOA everyday, i heard once Gov. Huntsman's speech in Chinese, his chinese is not good, i am sure.

obamamama31 Author Profile Page:

Governor Huntsman lived and worked in Taiwan for two years, all the while communicating in Mandarin Chinese. If you close your eyes and listen to him speak, does he sound like a native Chinese? Probably not. Can he conduct business and say everything necessary for everyday life? Most likely, yes.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

Here is a point from the Chinese,

The important is not about how he speaks fluent Chinese, is he knows the difference of China, Chinese, and CCP. And also his understanding of the common ground of Mainland China and Taiwan.

Language is just a tool, but brain and heart are the person.

Yao did not speak English when he started in NBA the first year, but he managed OK, because he was respectful and quick learner of other people's culture and not to play the Biggest Person in the Room or World like most Americans tended to fall on that road, to be a host instead of a guest.

ras82 Author Profile Page:

BLCSFO makes a good point. I doubt Huntsman is "fluent" in Chinese. Fluency in Chinese is hard to achieve. Even for the most gifted students, it takes I would wager it takes at least two years of intensive in-country training. This admission doesn't take anything away from Huntsman or Rudd, but the media should stop saying they are fluent in Chinese, where they are clearly not.

alex65 Author Profile Page:

Mr. Pomfret,

I believe the appointment of Mr. Huntsman to China as the ambassador will be good to the national interest of the United States. He would help set the agenda between the two nations on a rational level that would surely benifit both nations.

However, unless the political atmosphere changes in the US AND the political landscape changes in China, I do not see this appointment help Mr. Huntsman in his pursuit of the White House. I have a feeling he is sacrificing his political career for the good of the country. For that I applaud him.

blcsfo Author Profile Page:

When I lived in Taipei, I live about 3 blocks from then huge Mormon compound where the missionaries lived on 金华街。 The Mormon missionaries were easy to spot, because they wore black and rode on black bicycles with high handlebars and high seats, which projected them head and shoulders above the rest of the bicycles on the street. The locals didn't really care for the Mormon missionaries, but left them alone. The Mormons where there to recruit members for there church. They often did about their preaching, recruitment work at the 台北新公园 Taipei New Park. Talking about saving their souls, joining their movement. The local Chinese were too polite to shoo them away.

This is what Gov Jon Huntsman did in Taipei. How fluent is Gov. Huntsman with his Mandarin Chinese? I would venture to say, he's probably no Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia, whom studied in Beijing.

The word 'fluent' is tossed around too loosely these days. Anyone living in a foreign country has supposedly obtained 'fluency' in a language? I don't think so, I've met many foreigners that can't speak fluent Chinese, unless they studied and have lived in China for several years. Chinese is a very difficult language to learn and to speak, read, and write.

China has it's HSK. 汉语水平考试。 It's a multi level test of Chinese language competency , speech, reading, and writing. Governor Huntsman is probably rudimental at best and I would doubt if Jon Huntsman is as fluent as the press/Obama thinks he is.

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