China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, announced that he is leaving his post after eight years of service in Washington.
Cui published on Monday evening a letter on the Embassy’s official website bidding farewell to Chinese citizens residing in the U.S. and confirming his return to China.
According to the South China Morning Post, Cui, 68, was well past the usual retirement age for Chinese diplomats (65), as Beijing decided to keep him in the post after the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newspaper notes that his replacement would be Qin Gang, a 55-year-old diplomat who has worked in the Chinese Foreign Ministry since 1992. He was a spokesman before being promoted to the position of vice-minister in charge of overseeing European policy and information affairs and state protocol.
In the letter, Cui recalls that since the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington 42 years ago, “the interests of the two countries have been closely linked.”
“Now, China-US relations are at a crucial crossroads,” said the diplomat, who throws down the gauntlet to the new administration led by Joe Biden, by assuring that Washington is facing “the choice of dialogue and cooperation or confrontation and conflict.”
Despite having been the Chinese ambassador during a period of great tensions between the two countries, especially during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021), Cui showed a relatively moderate stance compared to the new generation of Chinese diplomats known as “wolf warriors”, who have opted for a much more aggressive tone.
However, one of the current spokespersons of the Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, assured that for the moment the Chinese authorities have no information to make public regarding Cui’s replacement as head of the legation in the United States.