| 14 July 2024, Sunday |

State Dept picks veteran diplomat Lambert as top China policy official

The U.S. State Department has picked veteran diplomat Mark Lambert as its top China policy official, five sources familiar with the matter said, bringing in new leadership for a part of the department that has faced staffing problems and criticism over its handling of China-focused initiatives.

Lambert will likely be named as the deputy assistant secretary for China and Taiwan, the sources said, filling the post left in June by Rick Waters.

Waters had also served as the head of the Office of China Coordination – informally known as ‘China House’ – a unit the department created late last year to meld China policies across regions and issues. Whether Lambert will assume the China House coordinator title is still being discussed, sources said.

Lambert’s appointment is unlikely to change the tone of Washington’s China policy, which President Joe Biden’s administration says is one of “intense competition” while trying to increase engagement with Beijing to stabilize ties.

But Lambert, a well-regarded diplomat with experience in East Asia, is certain to influence China House, which has been criticized for adding layers of bureaucracy to an already complex decision-making process.

It was unclear when the State Department will formally announce the appointment.

“We have no personnel announcements to make at this time, but the Office of China Coordination remains an integral piece of the U.S. governments efforts to responsibly manage our competition with the People’s Republic of China and advance our vision for an open, inclusive international system,” a State Department spokesperson said in an emailed response to a request for comment.

The State Department pushed back on criticism about China House, saying it was one if its highest-functioning teams.

“It has improved coordination and facilitated senior leaders’ diplomacy and policymaking, with results including enabling the Department’s response to the PRC surveillance balloon and rapid briefing of allies and partners around the world to expose the PRC’s global program,” a State Department official said.

  • Reuters