BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to China will step down early subsequent month, ending a three-year tenure marked by a commerce battle and more and more bitter relations between the world’s two largest economies.

Terry Branstad, appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017, confirmed his choice in a telephone name with Trump final week, the U.S. Embassy mentioned in an announcement Monday. It didn’t give a cause for his departure.

“I’m proudest of our work in getting the section one commerce deal and delivering tangible outcomes for our communities again dwelling,” he was quoted as saying at an embassy employees assembly on Monday.

Phrase of his departure leaked out earlier within the day when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Branstad on Twitter for his service.

“Ambassador Branstad has contributed to rebalancing U.S.-China relations in order that it’s results-oriented, reciprocal, and honest,” Pompeo wrote in a follow-up tweet.

China’s overseas ministry mentioned earlier than the embassy announcement that it was conscious of Pompeo’s tweet however had not acquired any notification that Branstad was leaving.

Branstad grew to become embroiled in a current controversy when China’s official Individuals’s Every day newspaper rejected an opinion column that he had written.

Pompeo tweeted final week that China’s ruling Communist Get together refused to run Branstad’s op-ed whereas the Chinese language ambassador to the US “is free to publish in any U.S. media outlet.”

Chinese language overseas ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded that Branstad’s article was “filled with loopholes, severely inconsistent with details and wantonly assaults and smears China.”

The U.S. Embassy had contacted the Individuals’s Every day on Aug. 26 concerning the piece, asking that or not it’s printed in full with none edits earlier than Sept. 4, the Individuals’s Every day mentioned in an announcement posted on-line.

Branstad, 73, is a local of Iowa and was governor of the main farming state for 22 years over two spans, from 1983 to 1999 and 2011 to 2017.

Early in his first time period, he met Xi Jinping, now China’s chief, when the then county-level Communist Get together official visited Iowa on a 1985 commerce journey.

Trump appointed him ambassador after a emptiness of a number of months, throughout which the embassy’s No. 2 official, David Rank, resigned after criticizing the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris local weather accord.

Quickly after arriving in Beijing in June 2017, Branstad welcomed American beef again to the Chinese language market after a 14-year ban, saying “I do know it’s a key precedence of the president to scale back the commerce deficit, and this is without doubt one of the methods we will do it.”

However commerce relations shortly soured, because the U.S. imposed tariffs on Chinese language merchandise and China retaliated in variety. Different disputes adopted over know-how, human rights and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Branstad joined U.S. Commerce Consultant Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at commerce talks with Chinese language counterparts in Beijing in Could 2019.

The section one deal reached the next January represented a truce however didn’t handle the extra elementary complaints of the American facet.

The U.S. Embassy assertion additionally famous Branstad’s position within the effort to scale back the stream of fentanyl from China to the US, together with a 2018 pact wherein China agreed to listing the opioid as a managed substance.

Branstad additionally made a uncommon go to to Tibet in Could 2019, the place he expressed issues about what the U.S. referred to as Chinese language authorities interference within the freedom of Tibetan Buddhists to prepare and observe their faith.

“He inspired the Chinese language authorities to have interaction in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, with out preconditions, to hunt a settlement that resolves variations,” an embassy assertion on the time mentioned.