On a recent photo on his facebook page, Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Is seen shaking hands with the political critic of Beijing; His Holiness the Dalai Lama. What makes the picture, which was uploaded this week, so interesting is that Huntsman is the former U.S. ambassador to China. If that wasn't enough to rattle nerves in Beijing, Huntsman formally announced this week his campaign for the White House.
The profile photo, which depicts Huntsman shaking hands with the Dalai Lama, appeared to come from the Dalai Lama's visit to Utah in 2001, when the congressman was Governor of the region.
The photo album, titled ‘Governor and Ambassador,' consists of images of Mr. Huntsman speaking with members of the U.S. military, or stood in front of military aircraft. Only three photos - including two of him on a bicycle in Beijing - obviously place the congressman in China.
The photographs in the Facebook album are without captions, leaving observers to guess at their meaning. But the image of Mr. Huntsman smiling and shaking hands with the Dalai Lama seems clearly intended as a signal that the ex-ambassador isn't afraid to irritate his former hosts.
As a Republican, Huntsman is typically more critical of Beijing, and this photograph, as well as the selection on his social network site, is cleary intended to send a strong message; both to potential voters in the States and to those in Beijing.
There has been a very quiet response from Chinese media over the snub, which has chosen to ignore the message from the potential President.
Mr. Huntsman faced a tumultuous exit from his role in China, which involved public feuds over meetings canceled in the aftermath of his minor ‘Jasmine Revolution' appearance, which saw him upset officials in Beijing. The Chinese media now have little affection for an ambassador they'd once respected so greatly for speaking their language.