Branstad stepping down as U.S. ambassador to China

Terry Branstad

The U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, is stepping down amid tensions with Beijing, news partner KCRG-TV9 reports. Mr. Branstad was Iowa’s longest serving governor.

Sources tell CNN the ambassador is planning to leave Beijing before the November presidential election. He’s been there for three years.

This comes as tensions rise between the U.S. and China. On Friday, the Chinese government announced it would impose unspecified restrictions on senior U.S. diplomats and personnel in China. That was in response to a similar measure the U.S. put in place targeting Beijing diplomats earlier this month.

In a tweet posted this morning, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Mr. Branstad for his service as the U.S. Ambassador to China. Mr. Pompeo did not give a reason for Mr. Branstad’s leaving. There has been no announcement about a potential successor.

In a statement, Mr. Branstad thanked staff of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China for their hard work.

“I am proudest of our work in getting the Phase One trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home,” Mr. Branstad said. “Our goal remains meaningful, measurable results for American families. We have made significant progress and we will not stop pressing for more.”

Mr. Branstad has overseen one of the rockiest periods in U.S. China relations. CNN says a Communist Party publication rejected an opinion piece written by Mr. Branstad in which he accused the Chinese government of exploiting U.S. openness.

Current Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds took over for Mr. Branstad in 2017 when he left the position to be the ambassador.