| 23 February 2024, Friday |

China’s Ambassador to Washington is stepping down after eight years in service

Cui Tiankai, China’s longest-serving ambassador to Washington, announced on Tuesday that he will step down after eight years in office, leaving at a time when relations between the world’s two largest economies are strained.

Cui, who is 68 years old and has passed the mandatory retirement age of 65 for senior Chinese diplomats, was noted for maintaining his cool during the often tense conflicts between Beijing and former President Donald Trump’s administration.

China’s foreign ministry declined to comment on Tuesday on who would succeed Cui, but sources with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters that Qin Gang, 55, a foreign ministry vice minister and trusted aide of President Xi Jinping, is expected takeover as ambassador to Washington.

Qin served Xi as his chief protocol officer between 2014 to 2018, a period during which Xi travelled abroad frequently and hosted many high-profile domestic events.

Qin was noted for maintaining an assertive posture during his two tenure as foreign ministry spokesman, from 2006 to 2010 and 2011 to 2014, and for delivering strong comments in defense of China.

When asked about China’s so-called “wolf warrior” diplomacy – an assertive and often abrasive style adopted by many Chinese diplomats in recent years – Qin defended China’s right to reject “baseless allegations” and referred to the accusers as “evil wolves” at a news conference in February.

“I will eternally treasure the strong connection built with the Chinese nationals here during my stay in the United States,” Ambassador Cui wrote in a parting letter posted on the embassy’s website.

  • Reuters