Ambassador Terry Branstad visits Gansu, a province in north central China, in July of 2019.

DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad announced that he would retire from his post in early October and return to Iowa. 

The U.S. embassy in China announced that the ambassador confirmed his retirement with President Donald Trump by phone last week. The 73-year-old former governor of Iowa arrived in China in June of 2017. 

“I am proudest of our work in getting the Phase One trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home. Our goal remains meaningful, measurable results for American families. We have made significant progress and we will not stop pressing for more,” Branstad said to embassy and consulate staff in China on Monday.

Branstad helped lead the embassy’s successful effort to reduce the flow of Chinese fentanyl to the United States. In 2018, following months of negotiations, China agreed to schedule fentanyl and its derivatives as a controlled substance. 

“We are rebalancing the U.S.-China relationship so that it is fair and reciprocal and can fuel positive growth in both countries,” he said. “Getting to know the Chinese people, meeting them in their homes and hearing their personal stories, has been one of the great privileges of this job.” 

During his tenure, Branstad traveled to 26 provinces and autonomous regions in China and would have visited all of them if COVID-19 had not limited his domestic travel. 

“I thank Ambassador Terry Branstad for his more than three years of service to the American people as U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter.

Pompeo said Trump nominated Branstad “because his decades long experience dealing with China made him the best person to represent the Administration and to defend American interests and ideals in this important relationship.”

“Ambassador Branstad has contributed to rebalancing U.S.-China relations so that it is results-oriented, reciprocal, and fair. This will have lasting, positive effects on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come,” he concluded.

According to Trump, Branstad plans to campaign. “Eric’s father is coming home from China because he wants to campaign,” the president said on a call to U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, that she tweeted on Saturday.

Ernst tweeted on Monday, “You’ve made Iowa proud, Ambassador Branstad! Thank you for your service to our nation over the past three years. We can’t wait to welcome you back home. God bless you and your family.”

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also tweeted, “Once again I compliment Amb Terry Branstad for his outstanding service as ambassador to China It continued his dedication to public service after 22+ yrs being governor of Iowa. Terry, I look fwd to welcoming you back to Iowa!”

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