BEIJING—The top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Beijing resigned over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, depleting already thinned-out State Department ranks and depriving Washington of one of its most experienced China hands.
David Rank, a 27-year veteran of the State Department, has been running the embassy in Beijing as chargé d’affairs since January. He had been expected to continue in that role until Trump’s pick for ambassador, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, arrives. Branstad has been confirmed for his post but is undergoing ambassador training.
Rank, who couldn’t be reached for comment, announced his resignation at a town hall for embassy staff on Monday. He said his conscience prevented him from carrying out his duties after Trump’s decision on the climate-change agreement, according to people who were at the meeting.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry arrived in Beijing this week to attend an international gathering on clean energy and meet with Chinese officials. It would have been Rank’s job to accompany Perry to those meetings and help explain the Trump administration’s decision to exit from the Paris agreement.
His resignation comes as the Trump administration relies less on experienced career diplomats in its dealings with Asia. A diminished role for the State Department and its embassies has left foreign policy for the region in the hands of a few of the president’s advisers, including Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
Popular on WSJ.com:
Harvard rescinds admission offer to students over offensive messages
Exclusive test data: Many colleges fail to improve critical-thinking skills
- Apple bets that you’ll adopt these 3 tech habits
- Apple downgraded as analysts say investors dazzled by iPhone 8 aren’t pricing in enough risk
- Elon Musk asks for shareholders’ questions — and answers one about underwear