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Entries in Farewell Speech (1)

Wednesday
Apr062011

Potential Presidential Contender Huntsman Criticizes China's Human Rights Record 

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images(SHANGHAI, China) -- United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman delivered a “farewell” speech in Shanghai on Wednesday, less than a month before he is expected to leave his post there to begin campaigning for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

In his remarks, Hunstman chastised the Chinese government for its human rights record and called for closer cooperation between the two countries, lamenting that “too often, divisions dominate our discourse and sap our ability to work together.”

“The United States will never stop supporting human rights because we believe in the fundamental struggle for human dignity and justice wherever it may occur,” Huntsman said. “We do so not because we oppose China but, on the contrary, because we value our relationship.”

He mentioned American scientist Dr. Feng Xue, who he said “was wrongfully convicted of stealing state secrets and is now serving an eight-year sentence in prison far from his family in the United States,” as well as social activists like Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is imprisoned in the country, as well as Ai Weiwei, a Beijing artist who was taken into custody by Chinese authorities last weekend.

Hunstman commended Liu, Ai and others like them who “challenge the Chinese government to serve the public in all cases and at all times.”

“By speaking out candidly,” he noted, “we hope eventually to narrow and bridge this critical gap and move our relationship forward.”

The comments were said to be unusually critical for a U.S. diplomat in China.

Speculation has been swirling for months that Huntsman, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving his diplomatic post in China on April 30, will throw his hat into the presidential ring. A team of supporters have formed a political action committee, Horizon PAC, to function as a kind of campaign-in-waiting for the ambassador, who is at present legally unable to engage in campaign activity. Sources close to the PAC believe he’s all but certain to run.

Here’s at least one clue about his presidential ambitions: less than a month after he returns from Beijing, Huntsman plans to travel in New Hampshire, a crucial early nominating state, to deliver a commencement speech at Southern New Hampshire University. That speech, announced yesterday, is scheduled for May 21 in Manchester.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio