Pompeo says USA ambassador to China to leave post

Terry Branstad- AP image

The reasons for the ambassador's departure, which the U.S. Embassy later confirmed in a statement, were not immediately clear.

The US ambassador to China will step down early next month, after a Chinese state newspaper refused to publish an opinion piece written by the outgoing diplomat. "China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal, and fair".

Branstad was one of then-President-elect Trump's first ambassadorial picks in December 2016, shortly after Trump won the US Presidential election.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged Pompeo's tweet, but said it had not received notice of Branstad's resignation.

The 73-year-old had been in his post since May 2017.

During that period, the two were believed to have maintained a friendship of sorts, with Xi meeting again with Branstad during a visit to the U.S. in 2012 while still vice-president.Originally Branstad's appointment was welcomed by Beijing, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang lauding him as an "old friend of the Chinese people". That approach has since fallen by the wayside, with US officials like Pompeo calling engagement a failed strategy.

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Citing an unnamed source, the CNN news network reported that Mr Branstad was likely to leave Beijing before the November U.S. presidential election. Other disputes followed over technology, human rights and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The phase one deal reached the following January represented a truce but did not address the more fundamental complaints of the American side.

It noted his work pushing Beijing to class the powerful opioid fentanyl as a controlled substance, making its sale to the United States subject to China's maximum legal penalty.

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.

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".

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