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Jin Canrong: A brilliant decision by Obama
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17:26, May 18, 2009

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Jin Canrong, Deputy Dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University in China and an expert on US issues, said US President Barack Obama's choice of Jon Huntsman Jr. as the US ambassador to China is a particularly brilliant decision.

The Obama administration has been in power for almost four months, yet the important position of ambassador for China has remained vacant. Jin said the appointment of the ambassador for China was relatively early compared with that of the Obama administration's other officials however, demonstrating the US government's focus on China-US relations.

Jin said Obama acted quickly when appointing cabinet-level officials but such high speed has created some problems. For example, tax evasion and illegitimate fund-raising issues were raised during the election campaign, resulting in frequent changes of appointed candidates. Consequently, the appointment of lower-level officials has accordingly been very slow.

Taking the position of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs as an example, the document nominating Kurt Campbell to replace Christopher R. Hill for the position has not yet been submitted to the US Congress. Given that a lot of ambassadors have not been nominated, the appointment of the ambassador to China is relatively early, demonstrating the importance that Obama has attached to China-US relations.

Jon Huntsman is a political rising star in the Republican Party. Jin noted that his appointment is a politically smart move by Obama.

Jin said that as governor of Utah he is regarded as a member of the moderate faction of the Republican Party. With respect to issues such as homosexuality and taxation, he is different from typical Republicans, being less extreme. It has therefore been quite easy for him to gain votes from undecided voters. He is viewed as a potential Republican nominee to run for US president in the future, competing with Obama.

As a governor elected for two consecutive terms in Utah, Jon Huntsman Jr. enjoyed support from 77 percent of registered voters, and is therefore regarded as a politician of strength within the Republican Party. In light of this, his appointment as ambassador to China demonstrates Obama's political tolerance, or his political wisdom -- bringing a potential major contender under his leadership amounts to one less political rival from a personal point of view, as well as a show of his superiority from the point of view of party politics.

Moreover, Jin also believes that bringing Jon Huntsman Jr. under Obama's leadership will be beneficial to the mitigation of tension between the Republican and Democratic Parties. It has been brought to everyone's attention that Obama stated shortly after taking office that he wanted to be a president that would bridge the gap between the two parties.

In the 100-odd days since his inauguration however, his performance (in this respect) has not been particularly successful, as (almost) all of his policies have met with opposition from the Republican Party. Jin believes that whether the appointment (of Jon Huntsman Jr. as ambassador to China) would help ease some of the tension between the two parties should be a consideration when appointing an ambassador to China.

Some analysts pointed out that having nominated the US ambassador to China, Obama's policies on China have been preliminarily unveiled. But Jin believes that although Obama values China-US relations, the details of his policies towards China have not been finalized.

The Obama administration's policies on China were personally set by Obama, indicating the level of importance he attaches to China-US relations. However, the extent of the relationship still cannot be seen because US policies on Asia have not been fixed.

The Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs has not been appointed and has not even been sent to Congress for review, indicating that the details of the US policies on China have not yet been confirmed. The principle has been fixed however, and has been referred to by President Obama on many occasions; he believes that China-US relations are the most important political relations for the US.

By People's Daily Online

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