Former U.S. ambassador to China, and current Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman weighed in on the controversy over China’s currency at Thursday’s Washington Post-Bloomberg debate.

“I don’t want to find ourselves in a trade war,” he said. “If you start slapping penalties on them . . . you’re gonna get the same thing in return.”

Only a few hours before, the U.S. Senate had approved a bill designed to punish countries such as China that artificially undervalue their currencies, giving themselves an unfair trade advantage. Supporters say the measure will create jobs, but the White House and House Republicans say it could lead to a trade war.

The Post’s Karen Tumulty asked Huntsman to respond to those who ask, “Aren’t we already in a trade war with China?”

See Huntsman’s answer, and other candidates weigh in, below.