Top US China Policy Official Resigns – Sources
Top US State Department official Rick Waters will step down from his post, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters at a time of strained relations between Washington and Beijing.
Waters, the deputy assistant secretary for China and Taiwan who heads the newly created China House policy department, announced his intention to step down at a staff meeting on Wednesday, four of the sources said.
According to a source, Waters intends to remain in the ministry.
The State Department and Waters did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Waters’ announcement, which was first reported by Bloomberg.
Reuters reported two weeks ago that the State Department had delayed human rights sanctions, export restrictions and other key measures to damage US-China relations after a Chinese spy balloon flew over the US in February.
The report cited an email Waters sent to staff with instructions to delay some actions so the department could focus on a “balanced and measured response” to the balloon.
According to many analysts, relations between the world’s two largest economies have been at their worst for decades as the strategic rivals have clashed over issues ranging from Taiwan to trade.
President Joe Biden’s administration has sought high-level meetings with China to prevent ties from drifting toward conflict, particularly after a diplomatic crisis sparked by a balloon overflight of U.S. military bases.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has postponed a planned trip to China in February following the balloon incident, but the White House has said efforts are continuing to accommodate Blinken’s visits, as well as those from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Handel. Gina Raimondo.
Waters, a supporter of the government’s pro-engagement agenda, heads China House — officially the Office of China Coordination — which was launched in December as a revamp of the department’s China desk to sharpen China policy. He has been Deputy Secretary for about two years.
Some critics of the Biden administration have questioned US overreach to Beijing, arguing that recent decades of engagement have not changed China’s behavior on trade, security and human rights.
Congressman Mike McCall, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives on foreign affairs, requested information on the actions on China in a May 19 letter to Blinken, citing the Reuters report.
“If the United States is to succeed in its strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China, it must be willing to hold the People’s Republic of China accountable for its aggression and misbehavior—and do so well—in an organized and effective manner,” he wrote. McCall.
The Biden administration has recently seen other changes among senior officials dealing with China.
U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who has led much of the department’s approach to China, announced her retirement on May 12.
Laura Rosenberger, a former China official on Biden’s National Security Council, stepped down earlier this year to head a US government-owned nonprofit that monitors Washington’s unofficial ties to China.
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