Amid mounting tensions between the United States and China, earlier today came the announcement that long-serving Ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, would be leaving his post.
Cui had served in that role for eight years. He issued the following statement on Twitter late this morning:
When I go back, I will take with me fond memories of my time in America & the friendship that many of you have given to me. Both China and the US are great nations. It's my hope that we will take a long-term & strategic view of our relations & work for our shared future together.
— Cui Tiankai (@AmbCuiTiankai) June 22, 2021
Cui also penned a farewell letter. Per The Hill:
“China-US relations are at a critical crossroads, with the US engaging in a new round of restructuring in its government policy towards China, and it is facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation,” Cui wrote in the farewell letter, the South China Morning Post reported.
“At this moment, overseas Chinese in the US have to shoulder a greater responsibility and mission, and I hope you will defend your right to be in the US and to develop your own interests, with the starting point of helping to safeguard the fundamental interests of the people in China and the US,” Cui continued.
The timing of the announcement is interesting — particularly in light of recent reports of top counterintelligence official, Dong Jingwei, defecting — as our own Jen Van Laar has been tenaciously covering.
Cui’s replacement is expected to be foreign vice-minister Qin Gang, described by the South China Morning Post as “relatively moderate,” and “a career diplomat who has worked on European affairs, but with no direct experience in the United States.”
Qin had also previously served as chief protocol officer for Chinese President Xi Jinping from 2014 to 2018. Prior to that, he served as foreign ministry spokesman. Per Reuters:
During two stints as foreign ministry spokesman from 2006-2010 and 2011-2014, Qin was known for striking an assertive posture, often making sharp comments in defence of China.
Asked at a press conference in February 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 the “baseless smears.”
So, is he “relatively moderate”? Or “assertive and abrasive”? It appears to depend on who you ask.
A source in the intelligence community tells RedState that the replacement is a confidant of Xi, and the assumption is that Xi wants Qin here to attempt to shut down any investigation into information supplied by Dong Jingwei.
Which might explain the timing.