The top-ranking diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has abruptly resigned, telling colleagues he is leaving the foreign service over disagreements with Trump administration policy, U.S. officials said Monday.
State Department officials said David Rank announced his retirement Monday at a town hall meeting of embassy employees and cited President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord as a reason.
The department confirmed Rank’s retirement, saying it was a “personal decision” but offered no details about his reasons for stepping down.
Rank was a 27-year career foreign service officer with experience in Afghanistan, Taiwan, Greece and Mauritius.
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.
Rank’s resignation was first reported by John Pomfret, editor-at-large for the website, SupChina.
According to Pomfret, Rank stepped down because he “could not back Trump on climate” and had been dismayed by the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.
Pomfret added Rank had called the town hall meeting at the embassy “to say he could not deliver a demarche (initiative)” to China over U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement.