Who is Jon Huntsman? The Story of a Missionary Turned Ambassador

 
on May 07 2011 4:38 PM

Most people know Jon Huntsman, Jr. as a possible Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential race and the former ambassador to China.

On Saturday at the University of South Carolina, he gave his first public speech since he left his ambassador post. 

One of his major messages is that America is still as great and strong as ever, even as China's powerful economy emerges as a force that can potentially challenge it.

“I know there are many in China who think their time has come, that America’s best days are over, and there are probably some in this country who have lost confidence and think that China is the next best thing,” said Huntsman.

“The real test of a nation is not how well it does when times are good, but how well it does when times are tough. The way I saw it from overseas, America’s passions remain as strong today as ever.”

But just who is Jon Huntsman? And for starters, how did he get to become the US ambassador to China?

Huntsman is a Mormon and a descendent of David Haight, one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Mormon faith.  His father is billionaire Jon Huntsman, Sr., the founder of Huntsman Corporation. 

Earlier in his life, he lived as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan, where he learned Mandarin and Hokkien, a Taiwanese dialect.  His knowledge of Mandarin undoubtedly helped him land the job as US ambassador to China. 

Before that post, Huntsman served in various positions under the Regan and Bush Administration, including as the US ambassador to Singapore.

From 2004 to 2009, he was the highly successful and popular governor of Utah.  During his tenure, Utah fared well economically and his approving ratings at one point topped 90 percent.

When he was called by President Obama to serve as the ambassador to China in 2009, he resigned his Utah governorship.  When he announced his resignation to the China ambassador post on February 2011, many speculated that it was to run for yet another job – the 45th President of the United States.

 

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