Top US diplomat in China quits 'over Donald Trump's climate policy'

A senior career diplomat at the US embassy in China has stepped down following reports that he disagrees with US President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.

Former Amb. Dan Feldman, who most recently served as the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State, and was Ranks' supervisor for nearly five years described him as a "quintessentially professional foreign service officer", calling him "thoughtful, calm, judicious, non-political" and the kind of person "you want representing the U.S. government overseas".

Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg submitted a statement to the United Nations on Monday that over 1,000 U.S. governors, mayors, businesses, universities and others will continue to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement abandoned by Trump last week.

The formal process to withdraw from the Paris agreement takes four years, but Trump said the U.S. will not honour the pledge submitted by the Obama administration.

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. Meanwhile, the State Department itself has confirmed that Rank plans to retire from the foreign service, but did not speak on the reason for his decision.

Later this month, Trump's pick as the next U.S. ambassador to China, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, is expected to take up his post.

Rank becomes the second US ambassador to publicly split with Trump in the past few days.

The official said Chacon had tendered his resignation when Trump was inaugurated on January 20, along with all presidential appointees, who serve at the pleasure of the president and secretary of state.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who was at the same conference, declined to take questions from reporters.

Rank had been with the department for 27 years and served as the political councilor at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012.

Last week, Trump withdrew the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, drawing anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry.

Though Rank did not respond to a request for comment, he is reportedly "known for his personal concern about the environment".

Joint pledges by China and the United States ahead of the Paris talks helped create the momentum to secure a global agreement, and included a promise by China to set up a nationwide emissions trading exchange by this year.

  • Anthony Vega