To US diplomat in China quits over Trump's climate policy

California Gov. Jerry Brown left exchanges memorandum of understanding with China's Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang after the Clean Technology signing ceremony at a hotel in Beijing Tuesday

America's top diplomat in China has resigned over President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from a landmark climate change treaty, two sources told NBC News Monday.

David Rank, a 27-year veteran of the State Department, has been running the embassy in Beijing as chargé d'affairs since January.

A State Department official told CNN that Rank's resignation was a "personal decision", but several USA media quoted sources late Monday that pointed to the U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Agreement as the real cause.

"The U.S.is pulling out of the Paris accord.and this makes China into a leader, but really we are just doing what we must do for our own domestic reasons", Wang told the FT.

A US embassy spokeswoman would only confirm that Rank had made a "personal decision". Rank, a career Foreign Service officer of 27 years, told his staff that his conscience would not allow him to formally inform the Chinese about the USA decision to leave the climate accord.

Rank was a respected foreign service officer who joined the State Department in 1990.

Later this month, Trump's pick as the next USA ambassador to China, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, is expected to take up his post.

The full impact of Trump's decision still depended on whether other countries would follow the USA lead and decide to withdraw from the pact, he said.

Arnold Chacon had served as the director general of the foreign service and director of human resources.

News of Rank's resignation was broken on Twitter by veteran China reporter John Pomfret, an editor at the SupChina news site, formerly of the Washington Post.

Chacon could not immediately be reached for comment.

Former Ambassador Dan Feldman, Rank's supervisor for five years, called him a "quintessentially professional foreign service officer", adding that he was "thoughtful, calm, judicious, non-political" and someone "you want representing the US government overseas".

Joint pledges by China and the United States ahead of the Paris talks helped create the momentum to secure a global agreement, and included a promise by China to set up a nationwide emissions trading exchange by this year.

Contacted by Reuters for comment, Rank, a career foreign service officer who took over the post of deputy chief of mission in Beijing in January 2016, referred all questions to the usa embassy.

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