Before you start a war you first withdraw your ambassadors
by Jeremy Goldkorn, September 14, 2020
Terry Branstad, the Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador to China, who began his tenure in 2017, has abruptly resigned to work on the U.S. president’s reelection campaign.
…………….Branstad first met Xí Jìnpíng ??? in 1985, when the American was serving his first term as the governor of Iowa, and the man who is now China’s leader was an official from Hebei Province leading an official delegation to its “sister state.”
The long relationship led to speculation that Branstad would have special access to Xi, or be in a position to act as ballast in the bilateral relationship. Even the Communist Party’s house newspaper, the People’s Daily, called (in Chinese) Branstad “an old friend of the Chinese people.”
Whether this was true or not, the relationship is now on the rocks, and there are precious few bilateral channels of communication that are still open. The “old friend” is going home.
The last week has been tense.
Diplomatic tensions between China and the U.S. have been high for many months, and have ratcheted up in recent days:
Last week, the People’s Daily refused to publish an article by Branstad on “reciprocity,” saying that the piece was not up to the Party newspaper’s high standards. The U.S. Department of State responded with a note on “The hypocrisy of the PRC’s propaganda system.”
On Friday, China announced “reciprocal restrictions” against U.S. diplomats, after Washington announced new restrictions on staff working for Beijing’s foreign missions.
Today, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed, without elaborating, “The U.S. diplomatic envoys have recently been meeting East Turkestan forces and blatantly supporting terrorist and separatist forces, which clearly exposes their double standard on counterterrorism.” He was answering a question about a U.S. State Department webpage on human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
There were many other sources of tensions over the summer — notably, in July, the U.S. demanded the shuttering of China’s consulate in Houston, alleging that it was a center of “illegal spying.” China shut the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in response…………..