The US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday.
The reasons for the ambassador’s departure were not immediately clear, and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — while acknowledging Pompeo’s tweet — said it had not received notice of his resignation.
Pompeo thanked Branstad for his service in a tweet, he said that “he had contributed to rebalancing US-China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal and fair”.
The former two-term Iowa governor, 73, had been in the post since May 2017, representing Washington in Beijing during a period of strained ties with China, marked by tensions over trade, regional territorial claims, the coronavirus pandemic, and unrest in Hong Kong.
In June, he was summoned by Beijing after President Donald Trump signed a law that paved the way for sanctions over Hong Kong, an action the foreign ministry slammed as “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.
Last year, he called on Beijing to open a “substantive dialogue” with the Dalai Lama during a rare visit to Tibet, a region where the central government is accused of widespread repression.