U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad is stepping down

Clay Curtis
September 15, 2020

According to the report, Branstad is expected to leave Beijing before the USA presidential election in November.

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made the announcement on Monday.

Branstad's departure leaves the USA mission in Beijing without a confirmed ambassador at such a diplomatically critical time and that gap could last for months even if Trump is re-elected on November 3.

In this May 22, 2019 photo released by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad and his wife Christine pose for a photo in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa in western China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

He thanked Branstad for his more than three years of service to the American people as envoy to China.

"[It shows] Beijing's hypocrisy when it complains about lack of fair and reciprocal treatment in other countries", Mr Pompeo said.

"I am proudest of our work in getting the Phase One trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home", the statement quoted him as saying. Branstad, who will step down in late October, has been praised for his work on the "rebalancing" of the U.S.

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Branstad became embroiled in a recent controversy when China's official People's Daily newspaper rejected an opinion column that he had written.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded that Branstad's article was "full of loopholes, seriously inconsistent with facts and wantonly attacks and smears China".

Then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and then-Iowa Governor Terry Branstad raise their glasses in a toast at a state dinner on February 15, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.

But as of a few weeks ago, Branstad was planning to remain in Beijing until after the election, according to two sources familiar.

It follows ongoing disputes over technology, human rights and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pompeo publicly condemned the government-run newspaper's decision on Twitter, saying China's ambassador to the U.S.is "free to publish in any US media outlet".

"He encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences", an embassy statement at the time said.

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