David Rank, a career diplomat serving as the chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Beijing has abruptly retired from the State Department, reportedly over Donald Trump’s controversial decision last week to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Veteran China reporter John Pomfret tweeted the news yesterday, citing unnamed sources which said that Rank “couldn’t back Trump on climate” and had found himself unable to deliver a formal notification to the Chinese government regarding the US withdrawal from the international accord.
— John Pomfret 潘文 (@JEPomfret) June 5, 2017
An anonymous senior US official confirmed this account to Reuters. Meanwhile, the State Department itself has confirmed that Rank plans to retire from the foreign service, but did not speak on the reason for his decision.
“He has retired from the foreign service,” said Anna Richey-Allen, a spokeswoman for the department’s East Asia Bureau. “Mr. Rank has made a personal decision. We appreciate his years of dedicated service to the State Department.”
Rank is a career foreign service officer with 27 years of experience working in the department. He took up the post as deputy chief in Beijing in January 2016 and had previously served in Kabul.
At the Beijing Embassy, Rank has been replaced as chargé by Jonathan Fritz, the embassy’s economics councilor. Later this month, Trump’s pick as the next US ambassador to China, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, is expected to take up his post.
Meanwhile, there are worries that more foreign service resignations could soon follow. Rank’s retirement comes just after the State Department accepted the resignation of Arnold Chacon, its top personnel officer. With Trump slow to make appointments many senior posts at the State Department are currently filled by acting officials or vacant.
Not an isolated incident. More career Asia hands at State already planning to resign in coming months. Big losses. https://t.co/nKT0VDXlyb
— Ely Ratner (@elyratner) June 6, 2017
Trump’s decision last week to quit the Paris Agreement outraged not only some US officials, but many world leaders as well. Only two countries have not signed the Paris Agreement: Nicaragua, who doesn’t think the accord does nearly enough, and Syria, who is in the middle of a bloody civil war.
While Trump has positioned himself as the chief opponent of the international agreement aimed at fighting global warming, China has emerged as one of its biggest supporters, pledging to uphold the commitments that it has made in the agreement, even if the US does not. On Friday, Chinese state media scolded the US president for his decision, calling it a “huge setback for global efforts against climate change.”
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