Terry Branstad will be stepping down as US ambassador to China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Monday, as tensions between the two nations escalate.
Pompeo announced the news regarding Branstad’s departure in a series of tweets sent Sunday night into Monday morning.
“I thank Ambassador Terry Branstad for his more than three years of service to the American people as U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China,” the nation’s top diplomat began.
While Pompeo declined to provide a reason for Branstad’s sudden departure, he praised the former Iowa governor’s work for the Trump administration overseas.
“President @realDonaldTrump chose Ambassador Branstad because his decades-long experience dealing with China made him the best person to represent the Administration and to defend American interests and ideals in this important relationship,” he continued.
“Ambassador Branstad has contributed to rebalancing U.S.-China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal, and fair,” Pompeo said, adding, “This will have lasting, positive effects on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”
Branstad, the former two-term Iowa governor and early supporter of the commander-in-chief, began his tenure as US ambassador to China in mid-2017.
According to the South China Morning Post, the outgoing ambassador was formerly referred to by Beijing as “an old friend of the Chinese people.”
The move comes as relations between the US and China continue to plunge to new lows.
US-China relations tanked this year over Chinese concealment of early coronavirus data and the central government’s elimination of political autonomy in Hong Kong.