The US ambassador to China will step down early next month before the November presidential election, ending his three-year tenure marked by a trade war and increasingly tense relations between the two superpowers.
Terry Branstad, appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017, confirmed his decision in a phone call with Trump last week, the US Embassy said in a statement Monday. It did not give a reason for his departure.
Trump referenced the outgoing ambassador and his son Eric Branstad during a phone call with Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, according to CNN.
“Eric Branstad’s fantastic and you know, Eric’s father is coming home from China because he wants to campaign,” Trump said on the call, which Ernst tweeted in a video on Saturday.
“He still plays well in the Midwest. He has high name ID and is probably the best person to talk about the China influence,” said a source close to the Trump campaign.
Communist Chinese leader Xi Jinping considers Branstad an “old friend”. Branstad’s relationship with Xi dates to 1985, when Xi, then a young official from Hebei Province, headed a five-man agricultural delegation to Iowa.
Therefore, Branstad’s appointment was welcomed by Beijing, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang lauding him as an “old friend of the Chinese people.”
For three years, Branstad, obviously the number one target of the CCP’s BGY scheme, has worked hard to mediate between economic benefits and human rights issues.
In September 2018, when Trump was fighting a bitter trade war with Communist China, Chinese state-run media The China Daily ran a four-page insert in Sunday’s Des Moines Register in Branstad’s hometown state of Iowa.
“China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news. That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over!” Trump slammed the ads deal in his tweet.
But this month, Branstad’s China friendship suffers a setback. His departure may be a resignation, but a greater possibility that he is called back by President Trump before tougher actions are taken.
On September 9, an opinion piece written by Branstad was rejected for publication by Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily for being “seriously inconsistent with facts.”
“If you do wish to publish this op-ed in the People’s Daily, you should make substantive revisions based on facts in the principle of equality and mutual respect,” People’s Daily said in its rejection letter, no longer giving Branstad FACE.
In response, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo accused China of “hypocrisy,” saying that if the Chinese government was a mature power, it would “respect the right for Western diplomats to speak directly to the Chinese people.”
“The People’s Daily’s response once again exposes the Chinese Communist Party’s fear of free speech and serious intellectual debate,” Mr. Pompeo said.
“Ambassador Branstad has contributed to rebalancing US-China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal, and fair,” Pompeo wrote in a follow-up tweet, praising the ambassador of his 3-years service.
As President Trump no longer calls President Xi “a good friend of mine, ” and Bidens’ Democratic Party has reversed the “One China Policy”, there is a possibility that the US would downgrade its diplomatic ties with Communist China.
Looking back, Branstad was chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as US Ambassador to China in December 2016. Branstad’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee was held on May 2, 2017. This means it took more than 5 months to go through the process.
When the election has only two months to go, we are not expecting a new U.S. ambassador to China at least in the following 5 to 6 months, whether Trump or Biden wins the election.
When Trump said he has not talked to President Xi for a long time, the highest channel for dialogues has been cut off.
Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai has been complaining that the China-US relationship is going in the wrong direction and, like some have described, is in a “free fall,” when he spoke at a recent webinar on China-US relations with the Brookings Institution.
Cui Tiankai warned against attempts to push the China-US relationship into confrontation and called on the US to correctly see bilateral ties and “seize the opportunity in a post-pandemic world for future cooperation.”
As we have seen tensions rise around the South China Sea, Taiwan is ready to welcome a planned trip of US undersecretary of state Keith Krach for trade talks this week, a move that is set to further enrage mainland China.
It comes after US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar visited the island last month, prompting a strong protest from Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory.
The Chinese government is nervous. They are afraid that a global alliance has been formed to counter the Communist Regime and to hold them accountable for the coronavirus.
“We are ready to work with the current administration to search for solutions to existing problems anytime, anywhere, even today or tomorrow. I just hope that they will free themselves from the panic and paranoia, which is costing them common sense in such a shocking way,” nervous Cui Tiankai noted.
The U.S. Embassy is still there in Beijing, but there will be no ambassador. Maybe this new ambassador will never come. Or when he comes, he will be the new ambassador to the New Federal State of China after the overthrow of the CCP.
By Cloudy Seagail