Like Obama, Huntsman hasn’t ducked the nations’ differences, but he doesn’t dwell on them. Instead he has sought to emphasize common goals and to show that the United States respects China’s growing international importance.
Huntsman has defended recent U.S. actions to upset Chinese leaders, but he has also tried to assuage an angry Chinese populace through an op-ed he wrote for The Global Times , a major Beijing-based newspaper.
“The Sino-U.S. relationship is the most complex and vital relationship in the world today,” he wrote. “We cannot, we must not, allow our disagreements to negate aspects of our relationship that are so critical to the region and the world.”
Huntsman wrote that he recognized the “strong feelings” about the sale of military helicopters and anti-aircraft missiles to Taiwan and he applauded China for building a better relationship with its cross-strait neighbor. But he defended the arms deal, saying U.S. policies have helped maintain the peace in Asia.
In The Tribune interview, Huntsman noted that today China is more robust, confident and “feeling its way in the world.”
But there are still peaks and valleys in bilateral relations.
“It’s a relationship that goes in very distinct cycles and has from the very moment [President Richard] Nixon stepped off the plane in ’72,” Huntsman said.