Huntsman, a former governor in the US and Republican presidential candidate, was invited to speak at the World Money Show convention in Shanghai.
The government intervened and pressured the organisers to disinvite him, said the interview.
Huntsman believed his tendency to criticise the Chinese government on human rights and other issues was too risky for the Chinese Communist Party, especially amid a sensitive time ahead of its leadership transition.
“And at a time of leadership realignment, the biggest deal in 10 years for them, they didn’t want the former U.S. ambassador saying stuff that might create a narrative that they would have to fight,” he told Foreign Policy.
The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress is scheduled to start in Beijing on November 8. A new generation of leaders, including Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, are expected to be placed in the Party’s top positions, replacing the current leadership headed by Hu Jintao. It’s seen as the most significant leadership transition for China in decades.SCMP