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In our opinion: Welcome back

Published: Saturday, May 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jon Huntsman Jr.

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This week, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. returns to Utah for the first time since stepping down as U.S. ambassador to the People's Republic of China. It was remarkable that a Utah governor was sought out to serve in one of the most visible ambassadorial roles in our country's foreign service.

The Deseret News has a longstanding policy of neutrality with regard to political candidates. Irrespective of any merit for national political office, and however he may stack up against his able competitors, it is appropriate to pause briefly and recognize a job well done by Huntsman for the U.S. and Utah as he served in China.

It is the relative quiet in U.S.-China relations during Huntsman's ambassadorial tenure that speaks volumes about his successful leadership. Even as the two countries maneuver to establish a modus vivendi, Huntsman enjoyed respect from his Chinese counterparts and admiration from U.S. business.

And it was not because Huntsman acquiesced to the Chinese, although he clearly has a soft spot in his heart for the Chinese people. Huntsman exercised firm command of the protocol and decorum requisite for his high ambassadorial role. On occasion Ambassador Huntsman would bicycle himself to meetings at the Foreign Ministry, suggesting to his counterparts what the Wall Street Journal called both "humility and defiance."

Although his primary responsibility was to advance the interests of the United States, Huntsman opened important doors for Utah. Exports from Utah to China jumped nearly 8 percent, even during an economic recession. His guidance was crucial in the success of a recent Utah-specific trade mission led by Gov. Gary Herbert. And it is no accident that Chinese tourism in Utah has jumped dramatically during Huntsman's ambassadorship, rising 52 percent last year with predictions of a 200 percent increase this year.

In his diplomatic service, Jon Hunstman Jr. has brought training, experience and integrity to his job and credit to his country.

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