Jon Huntsman is about to leave the People’s Republic of China after less than two years as Washington’s ambassador. Human rights activists say he did a good job, at least by comparison with his predecessor, Clark J. Randt, Jr. That's not saying much. However, ambassadors planning a presidential run no doubt think about how their records abroad will be perceived at home. As he explores the prospect of challenging his boss, President Obama, in 2012, Ambassador Huntsman has been appearing more often in the media. Last Sunday, he visited the site where Chinese people had been urged to meet as part of a "Jasmine revolution." According to an embassy spokesman, he didn't mean to be there. He happened to come across the gathering while he was out shopping with his family. But he nevertheless earned the distinction of having Internet censors in China block his name. Yesterday, Ambassador Huntsman criticized China’s ill treatment of foreign journalists.
Ambassador Huntsman’s last day is April 30. If he really thinks that American voters care what he did while in China, he should use the next two months to his maximum advantage. And if his potential rivals in the Republican primary feel the same way, they might want to speak up about China as well.