Top US Diplomat in China Resigns After Trump Climate Decision

David Rank, the acting ambassador, quit post Monday

David Rank, the top U.S. diplomat in China, has resigned in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. (Win McNamee/Getty Images File Photo)
David Rank, the top U.S. diplomat in China, has resigned in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. (Win McNamee/Getty Images File Photo)
Posted June 5, 2017 at 7:54pm

David Rank, the acting U.S. ambassador to China, resigned Monday in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, CNN reported.

Rank called a town hall-style meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to inform his colleagues that he could not deliver a notice to the Chinese government on the Trump administration’s retreat from the international pact negotiated under former president Barack Obama, according to a tweet from China expert John Pomfret.

Rank, who has worked in the foreign service since 1990, assumed his role as acting ambassador in January 2016. He was the placeholder for President Donald Trump’s pick for the ambassadorial post, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who Congress confirmed in May and is expected to take up the position later this month.

“[Rank] has retired from the foreign service,” a spokeswoman for State’s East Asia Bureau confirmed to the New York Times, although she didn’t say whether Rank’s resignation had anything to do with Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement. “Mr Rank has made a personal decision. We appreciate his years of dedicated service to the State Department.”

Trump’s announcement of withdrawal last week caused a ripple on Capitol Hill, where members of Congress, largely divided along party lines, either derided or championed the decision.

“Instead of keeping our promise to the world, Donald Trump would rather join Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega as the world leaders who refuse to participate in the Paris climate agreement,” Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Environment and Public Works and Foreign Relations Committees, said in a statement, referencing the leaders of the only other two countries not to sign onto the agreement. “Keeping an empty campaign promise is not more important than keeping our promise to the world to combat climate change.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., joined many of his Democratic colleagues in denouncing the Trump administration’s about-face.

“Something’s not right when @POTUS is putting our country on a list with bad hombres Bashar al Assad of Syria and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua,” Curbelo tweeted shortly after Trump’s announcement.

But most Republican members of Congress applauded the change in executive branch policy, with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., calling the agreement a “raw deal” for American workers.

“In order to unleash the power of the American economy,” Ryan said in a statement Thursday, “our government must encourage production of American energy.”

Trump has not ruled out the possibility of negotiating a new international climate agreement.