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Chinese government canceled visa for former U.S. ambassador

Former U.S. ambassador to China and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was set to give a speech in China last month, but the Chinese Communist Party government intervened and thwarted his visa application, he told Foreign Policy. "I was supposed to be there a month ago giving a speech, but they cancelled my visa," Huntsman ...

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Former U.S. ambassador to China and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was set to give a speech in China last month, but the Chinese Communist Party government intervened and thwarted his visa application, he told Foreign Policy.

"I was supposed to be there a month ago giving a speech, but they cancelled my visa," Huntsman said in an exclusive interview with FP's resident China hand Isaac Stone Fish.

Former U.S. ambassador to China and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was set to give a speech in China last month, but the Chinese Communist Party government intervened and thwarted his visa application, he told Foreign Policy.

"I was supposed to be there a month ago giving a speech, but they cancelled my visa," Huntsman said in an exclusive interview with FP’s resident China hand Isaac Stone Fish.

Huntsman was set to speak at the World Money Show in Shanghai in September, but the Chinese government leaned on the organizers to uninvite him, he said.

"Well, the group that was bringing me in to speak, the organizers, they had a little pressure put on them, shall we say," he said. "I think it was pretty overt pressure."

Huntsman said his penchant for speaking critically about the Chinese government’s treatment of its own citizens was just too risky for the China at its political leadership is preparing for a major transition.

"Why [was the visa denied]? Because I talk too much about human rights and American values, and they know that, and at a time of leadership realignment, the biggest deal in 10 years for them, they didn’t want the former U.S. ambassador saying stuff that might create a narrative that they would have to fight, and I understand that," Huntsman said.

"But when the transition is done, the crazy American ambassador will be let back in, and I can say whatever I want."

Read the entire interview here.

Update: Huntsman’s office, after the interview was published, provided this clarification:

"The governor’s invitation to speak, not his visa, was rescinded for political reasons. The governor misspoke in the interview, citing a canceled visa when he meant to say cancelled invitation."

 

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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