Terry Branstad is stepping down as US ambassador to China, ending a more than three-year tenure at the forefront of Washington’s increasingly strained relationship with Beijing, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Branstad in a series of tweets on Monday, saying the envoy had “contributed to rebalancing US-China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal, and fair.”
Branstad, a Republican whose six terms as governor of Iowa over two stints made him the longest-serving governor in US history, is due to leave Beijing in early October and return to Iowa, according to a statement from the US Embassy in Beijing. He spoke to President Trump by phone last week to confirm his decision to retire, the statement said.Branstad’s son, Eric, is an adviser to Trump’s Iowa campaign, and the elder Branstad is expected to support Trump and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in 2020 races in Iowa. Trump told Ernst in a phone call that Branstad is “coming home from China ’cause he wants to campaign,” according to a recording of the call Ernst posted Saturday on Twitter.