Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the united States, responds to reporters' questions during an interview through Reuters in Washington, Nov. 6, 2018.

Cui Tiankai, the 69-year-old job diplomat who has served together China’s ambassador come the unified States because April 2013, is obtaining ready to go home.

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American analysts mostly provide Cui high clues for exactly how he stood for his country — or at least its federal government — during his eight-year tenure. However they additionally question the degree to which that or any type of Chinese diplomat has actually been maybe to influence decision-making in Beijing.

Winston Lord, previous U.S. Ambassador to China, and also Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia routine at the German Marshall fund in Washington, are among those that say Cui has been a highly efficient diplomat.

“Ambassador Cui Tiankai has done superb job in my view, throughout a very complicated period,” Lord stated in a call interview from his home in brand-new York.

Skilled, respected

The fact that Cui continued to be in his short article for so lengthy attests to his skill and also the respect in which he is held, lord said. “He’s been very strong in defending Chinese interests, that course, but he’s constantly done so v a feeling of trying to encourage some sort of dialogue, even though we’ve gained some sharp disagreements.”

Glaser attend some events Cui organized at the Chinese Embassy. When asked about the an elderly diplomat’s mannerisms in ~ those functions, she recalled the “sometimes he was gracious, periodically he used tougher language once that was ideal — he is a very good diplomat, and he adjusts his messaging based upon the prevailing situation in the U.S.-China relationship.”


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When Cui take it up his post, he spoke of China together the “largest emerging country” and the U.S. As “the largest developed one.” He stated the relationship was moved by “the ever-expanding converging interests between our 2 countries and the usual responsibility that we share in safeguarding world peace, cultivating sustainable advancement of the global economy.”

Eight year later, relations between the two countries have got to their lowest ebb in years as Beijing by a an ext aggressive posture around the people — sending out a brand-new breed that diplomats defined as “wolf warriors.”

“Even though civilization would excellent financial progress, the wolf warrior strategy to diplomacy, the repression at home, actions abroad have actually meant a decrease in how China is viewed roughly the world,” lord said.

However, no he no one Glaser look at Cui as part of that new breed.

Three responsibilities

Traditionally, ambassadors have actually three main responsibilities, “no matter which country you represent,” Lord said in the phone call interview. In enhancement to representing the house country and its interests, an ambassador is tasked v reporting on breakthroughs in the organize country and making policy recommendations.

A Chinese ambassador in Washington is expected to give officials in Beijing “a real feel because that the American scene; that’s really important,” said Lord. But, he added, it may be an overwhelming for Cui or any kind of Chinese diplomat come be entirely candid.

“I think the American ambassador has a somewhat much easier time than the Chinese ambassador,” he said. “If ours ambassador sends home frank views — for example, disagreeing through what Washington is doing, or possibly saying the the Chinese suggest of view is reasonable — that will certainly be respected; he’s intended to be candid. He shouldn’t need be overly belligerent or overly rose in his views of his hold country. Every he’s acquired to carry out is be honest.”


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The Chinese ambassadors, meanwhile, “probably are going to have actually a more complicated time,” he said. “It’s a lot of more challenging politically for the ambassador below to go earlier to Beijing and also say, ‘Look, you’re making a mistake,’ or that the American allude of view is no unreasonable.”

David Stilwell, who offered as the U.S. Assistant secretary of state because that the bureau of eastern Asian and Pacific Affairs native June 2019 until January, stated Cui’s dilemma has its roots in the political society in Beijing.

“I feel sorry for Ambassador Cui; he’s been in between a rock and also a tough place for the critical eight years,” Stilwell said in a phone interview from Honolulu. “As the man on the soil in D.C., he to be responsible for informing Beijing what to intend from the new administration.” Stilwell was referring to hardened stance towards the Chinese government embraced by the management led by chairman Donald Trump.

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Criticism "not tolerated"

However, “suggesting that basic Secretary Xi needed to readjust course, come compromise, would certainly be tantamount come criticism,” Stilwell continued. “In the cult that personality that surrounds Xi Jinping, criticism is no tolerated.”

Stilwell stated that he imagined “Cui experienced the train wreck the was coming however couldn’t do anything to stop it, nor could he get out of the way.” by “train wreck,” Stilwell said he to be referring come the late in Beijing the the correct downturn in bilateral relations.