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US Ambassador to China stepping down as tensions with Beijing rise

September 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Terry Branstad will be stepping down as United States Ambassador to China after more than three years in Beijing, a source confirmed to CNN Monday.

Beijing (CNN)Terry Branstad will be stepping down as United States Ambassador to China after more than three years in Beijing, a source confirmed to CNN Monday.

Branstad is expected to leave Beijing before the November presidential election the source said.

The Chinese government announced on Friday it would be imposing unspecified restrictions on senior US diplomats and personnel inside China after Washington put in place a similar measure targeting Beijing's diplomatic corps on September 3.

In a Twitter post early Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Branstad for his service to the American people as the US Ambassador.

"President (Donald Trump) 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," Pompeo said.

Pompeo didn't give a reason for Branstad's departure, or any announcement about a potential successor to the important diplomatic post.

Trump said at the time that the then-Iowa governor was picked for his experience in public policy, trade and agriculture, as well as his "long-time relationship with (Chinese) President Xi Jinping," whom Branstad had known since 1985 through US-China government exchanges.

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. "

On September 9, an opinion piece written by Branstad, in which he accused the Chinese government of "exploiting" US openness in recent decades, was rejected for publication by Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily for being "seriously inconsistent with facts. "

In response, Secretary of State Pompeo accused People's Daily 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. "

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