By Josh Lederman - 01/08/12 03:48 AM EST
Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman traded barbs over how to approach the tenuous U.S. relationship with China, with each arguing in an ABC News debate that their approach to the eastern powerhouse is likely to yield the best results.
For Huntsman, who served as U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama despite being a Republican, the issue was personal.
Huntsman came back at Romney with an unusual trump card: His knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.
“It’s important to note, as they say in China,” Huntsman said before uttering a phrase in Chinese that left the audience baffled.
While Romney said he would put an end to China’s artificial manipulation of its currency to protect American jobs threatened by lower prices overseas, Huntsman said that strategy would be inherently dangerous.
“What they are calling for would start a trade war,” Huntsman said. “It hurts the small businesses and small exporters.”