US ambassador to end 3-year China tenure

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The United States ambassador to China will step down early next month, ending a three-year tenure marked by increasingly bitter ties between the world's two largest economies.
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The United States ambassador to China will step down early next month, ending a three-year tenure marked by a trade war and increasingly bitter ties between the world’s two largest economies.

Terry Branstad, 73, was appointed by US President Donald Trump in 2017. He confirmed his decision in a phone call with Trump last week, the US Embassy said in a statement on Monday. It did not give a reason for his departure.

“I am proudest of our work in getting the phase 1 trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home,” he was quoted as saying at an embassy staff meeting on Monday.

In a Twitter post early Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Branstad for his services.

China’s foreign ministry said before the embassy statement that it was aware of Pompeo’s tweet but had not received any notice that Branstad was leaving.

Branstad was embroiled in a recent controversy when People’s Daily newspaper rejected an opinion column that he had written.

Pompeo tweeted last week that People’s Daily refused to run Branstad’s op-ed while the China’s US ambassador “is free to publish in any US media outlet.”

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded that Branstad’s article was “full of loopholes, seriously inconsistent with facts and wantonly attacks and smears China.”

The US Embassy had contacted the People’s Daily on August 26 about the piece, asking that it be printed in full without any edits before September 4, the paper said in an online statement.

“If the Chinese government, as the US did, provided you with an article that seriously distorted the facts and attacked your country, and requested you to reply the next day and promise to post it without any changes, could you do it?” Zhao asked reporters attending a regular news briefing.

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