Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press
President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., right, to U.S. Ambassador to China in the Diplomatic Room of the White House Saturday.

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. issued the following statement Saturday:

"When I had the honor of asking Utahns for their vote as Governor of the greatest state in America, I did so as a public servant. We set out, as a family, willing and able to do our very best. That dedication to service and to the success of our state and country has influenced our every step.

"It is in the spirit of placing country before self or politics that I have accepted the request and nomination by President Obama, and with the consent of the United States Senate, to serve as United States Ambassador to China.

"Mary Kaye and I are equally humbled and conflicted by this decision, understanding that the U.S. – China relationship is among our nation's most critical. We are honored by the President's confidence and trust in our ability to contribute meaningfully, yet conflicted by leaving a state, people and job we love deeply. But when the President asks you to step up to serve your nation in such a capacity and at such an important time in world history, it is the end of the conversation and the beginning of an obligation.

"We have accomplished much with an excellent staff, cabinet and a dedicated legislature. I am proud of our work together which has resulted in Utah being recognized as the best managed state in the nation – with an economy second to none. Our journey has covered everything from comprehensive tax reform, the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), and improving our state's competitiveness to bolstering education and increasing teacher salaries, advancing healthcare reform and retooling our energy needs based upon a more sustainable future. Utah is positioned like few other states nationally to endure the challenging times, but indeed to exceed our expectations going forward.

Lt. Governor Gary Herbert has been an effective and loyal supporter of this Administration's goals. I thank him for his service and have great confidence in his ability to govern the State.

"Serving as Utah's 16th Governor truly has been our family's greatest honor. Mary Kaye and I thank all Utahns for their friendship, support and trust, and ask for continued confidence as we begin this new chapter."

Jon Huntsman Jr. bio

AGE-BIRTH DATE — 49; March 26, 1960.

EDUCATION — Attended University of Utah; bachelor's degree in international politics from the University of Pennsylvania.

EXPERIENCE — Nominated by President Barack Obama on Saturday to be ambassador to China; elected to a second term as governor in November 2008; national co-chairman of Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign; former chairman and chief executive of Huntsman Family Holdings Co.; former president of Huntsman Cancer Foundation; deputy U.S. trade ambassador, 2001-2003; ambassador to Singapore, 1992-93; deputy assistant commerce secretary, Trade Development Bureau, 1989-90; deputy commerce secretary for East Asia and the Pacific; White House staff assistant in the Reagan administration.

RELIGION — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; fluent in Mandarin Chinese from his service as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan.

FAMILY — He and his wife, Mary Kaye, have seven children, including an adopted daughter from China and an adopted daughter from India.

QUOTE — Said he did not "expect as national co-chair of Sen. McCain's presidential campaign to be called into action by the person who beat us. But I grew up understanding that the most basic responsibility one has is service to country. When the president of the United States asks you to step up and serve in a capacity like this, that to me is the end of the conservation and the beginning of the obligation to rise to the challenge. I stand here in my final term with plenty to do. I wasn't looking for a new job in life, but a call from the president changed that." — at the White House after Obama announced the appointment May 16.

Contributing: Associated Press