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Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 1:53 a.m.

Jon Huntsman stresses ties to China, hours after Obama lodges trade complaint

Huntsman said U.S.-Sino relations will be the biggest story in the coming months, and stressed the importance of the next generation’s cultural connection with the country. Media Credit: Jordan Emont | Assistant Photo Editor

Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said the U.S. needs to stress cooperative, rather than competitive, ties to China.

Huntsman, who served as the ambassador to China for three years, said the two nations needed to lay out common goals before building up economic and diplomatic ties.

He called on the U.S. “step up our game,” stressing cultural connections to the region, just hours after President Barack Obama announced a formal complaint he was lodging against Chinese auto subsidies at a campaign event in Ohio. Huntsman did not specifically comment on the complaint, which alleged a violation of fair trade obligations.

“The big picture for this country is that Iraq and Afghanistan are not our future. We’ve been there, we’re still there and we’ve got to fix it. We’ve got to get out. Our future is Asia,” Huntsman said.

The event, sponsored by GW’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the District-based Asia Society, sat Huntsman down with political science and international affairs professor David Shambaugh for more than an hour in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre.

He added that in addition to the U.S. financial deficit, the nation also lacks trust and confidence in its government – which was up to young Americans to tackle.

The former Utah governor, clad in brown leather cowboy boots, called on the hundreds of students in the audience to get involved in the issues they think will change the national discourse.

“You’ll have to step out on the world stage and decide our place in history,” Huntsman said.

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