A major setback in baijiu-American relations

In case you missed it or don’t pay attention to American politics, former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican primary race and endorse fellow Republican Mitt Romney later today.

So why am I write about this on a typically apolitical baijiu blog? Huntsman was never a serious contender, rarely polling above the low single digits among Republicans. Despite speaking Chinese and being an alleged Manchurian Candidate, he certainly left a bad taste in China’s mouth at the end of his tenure as ambassador with his Jasmine snafu. And wait a minute, isn’t he Mormon? I thought they weren’t supposed to drink.

Not so. According to Real Clear World’s Benjamin Domenach, Huntsman wasn’t afraid to take one for the team where baijiu was concerned. He writes:

[His associates in China will] tell you Huntsman truly does view his role as one of duty and service to the nation – even to the point of setting aside his Mormon religious views on drinking alcohol to drink the disgusting baijiu liquor which is mandatory at Chinese events (I’m told Huntsman would drink the clear alcohol once and then switch to water, hoping no one noticed after the first round).*

We all know Nixon liked (or was at least amused and nearly killed by) baijiu, but today America lost a candidate that wasn’t afraid to put Chinese firewater before his faith. I propose a ganbei to the memory of his political ambitions.

*A clever strategy. I plan to write more on baijiu avoidance techniques later, so stay tuned.

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