Top career USA diplomat in China embassy steps down

Thursday, 08 Jun, 2017

The most senior USA diplomat in China has resigned over Donald Trump's rejection of the Paris climate accord, it was claimed, as the governor of California described the president's controversial decision as only a "temporary" setback in confronting global warming.

"Mr. Rank made a personal decision".

He was No. 2 at the embassy, in charge pending the arrival of Trump's new ambassador to China, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who was confirmed by the Senate last month.

Feldman, who was a political appointee in the Obama administration, lamented the loss of Rank - and others like him - from the State Department, saying the administration was "losing incredibly gifted officers at a moment when the USA needed them more than any other time in recent history".

Trump's announcement on Thursday that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, saying it would undermine the USA economy and cost jobs, drew anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry. Branstad has been confirmed for his post but is undergoing ambassador training.

"He has retired from the foreign service", said Anna Richey-Allen, spokesman for the department's East Asia Bureau. "We appreciate his years of dedicated service to the State Department", the official told ABC News.

But sources familiar with the decision indicated that Rank's departure is directly tied to Trump's controversial move to pull out of the accord.

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News of Rank's resignation was broken on Twitter by veteran China reporter John Pomfret, an editor at the SupChina news site, formerly of the Washington Post.

The American public is more aligned with Rank than President Trump.

Rank was serving in China when President Xi Jinping and then-US President Barrack Obama jointly declared their commitment to the Paris agreement, which has been signed by 195 countries and ratified by 147.

The state department said the embassy's economics councillor Jonathan Fritz would be filling in behind Mr Rank immediately.

Dan Feldman, who was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan when Rank was a senior adviser there, said Rank was the quintessential, nonpolitical diplomat.

Smith, who continues to serve in Qatar, could not be reached for comment.

Though Rank told his staff he had expected to retire by the end of the year, being acting ambassador for a large and important embassy like the one in Beijing would have put him line to become ambassador in another, smaller country.