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List of ambassadors of the United States to China

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ambassador of the United States to the People's Republic of China
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg
Seal of the United States Department of State
NominatorThe President of the United States
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
FormationFebruary 27, 1979
First holderLeonard Woodcock
Final holderTerry Branstad
Abolished14 September 2020 (2020-09-14)[a]
WebsiteU.S. Embassy - Beijing

The United States Ambassador to China is the chief American diplomat to People's Republic of China (PRC). The United States has sent diplomatic representatives to China since 1844, when Caleb Cushing, as commissioner, negotiated the Treaty of Wanghia. Commissioners represented the United States in China from 1844 to 1857. Until 1898, the Qing Empire did not have a system in place for the Emperor to accept the Letters of Credence of foreign representatives. From 1858 to 1935, the U.S. representative in China was formally Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to China. The American legation in Nanjing was upgraded to an embassy in 1935 and the Envoy was promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

During the republican era, the U.S. recognized the Beiyang Government in Beijing from 1912 to 1928 and the Nationalist Government in Nanjing (and Chongqing from 1937 to 1945) from 1928 onwards. After the Communist People's Republic of China was established in mainland China in 1949 and the Kuomintang moved the Republic of China government from Nanjing to Taipei, Taiwan, the U.S. continued to recognize the Republic of China as the legitimate Chinese government and maintained its embassy in Taiwan. However, in 1973, the U.S. established a Liaison Office in Beijing to represent its interests in mainland China. In 1976, the Chief of the Liaison Office was promoted to the rank of ambassador. In December 1978, the U.S. severed official relations with the Republic of China and in January 1979, established formal relations with the People's Republic of China. The U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing was upgraded to an embassy on March 1, 1979. The American Institute in Taiwan was established in 1979 to serve as the unofficial U.S. representative to Taiwan, with the director of its Taipei Office taking the role of a de facto ambassador.

On May 22, 2017 the United States Senate approved and confirmed Terry Branstad, former Governor of Iowa, as the U.S. Ambassador to China.[1] He was sworn in on May 24, 2017.


Representation is as follows (years refer to dates of actual service):

Qing Empire:

Republic of China:

People's Republic of China:

  • Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China: 1973 to 1979
  • Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People's Republic of China: since 1979

List of envoys to the Qing Empire

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing.jpg
Massachusetts June 12, 1844 August 27, 1844
Alexander Hill Everett
Alexander Hill Everett, 1790-1847, half, facing slightly right (cropped).jpg
Massachusetts October 26, 1846 June 28, 1847
John W. Davis
John Wesley Davis.jpg
Indiana October 6, 1848 May 25, 1850
Humphrey Marshall
Kentucky July 4, 1853 January 27, 1854
Robert Milligan McLane
Governor robert mclane of maryland.jpg
Maryland November 3, 1854 December 12, 1854
Peter Parker
Hon. Parker - NARA - 528706.jpg
Massachusetts July 15, 1856 August 25, 1857
William B. Reed
William Bradford Reed.jpg
Pennsylvania May 3, 1858 November 11, 1858
John Elliott Ward
John E. Ward cph.3a01040.jpg
Georgia August 10, 1859 December 15, 1860
Anson Burlingame
Massachusetts August 20, 1862 November 21, 1867
John Ross Browne
J Ross Browne.jpg
California October 28, 1868 July 5, 1869
Frederick Low
California April 27, 1870 July 24, 1873
Benjamin Avery
No image.svg
California November 29, 1874 November 8, 1875
George Seward
George Seward.png
California April 24, 1876 August 16, 1880
James Burrill Angell
James Burrill Angell.png
Michigan August 16, 1880 October 4, 1881
John Russell Young
John Russell Young.jpg
New York August 17, 1882 April 7, 1885
Charles Harvey Denby
Charles Denby, 1830-1904 LCCN2002706285.jpg
Indiana October 1, 1885 July 8, 1898
Edwin H. Conger
Edwin Hurd Conger, 1843-1907.jpg
Iowa July 8, 1898 April 4, 1905
William Woodville Rockhill
William Woodville Rockhill.jpg
District of Columbia June 17, 1905 June 1, 1909
William J. Calhoun
Portrait of William J. Calhoun.jpg
Illinois April 21, 1910 February 26, 1913[note 1]

List of envoys to the Republic of China

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
William J. Calhoun
Portrait of William J. Calhoun.jpg
Illinois April 21, 1910 February 26, 1913[note 2]
Paul Samuel Reinsch
Portrait of Paul Samuel Reinsch.jpg
Wisconsin November 15, 1913 September 15, 1919
Charles Richard Crane
Portrait of Charles Richard Crane.jpg
Illinois June 12, 1920 July 2, 1921
Jacob Gould Schurman
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09830, Jacob Gould Schurman.jpg
New York September 12, 1921 April 15, 1925
John Van Antwerp MacMurray
John Van Antwerp MacMurray restored.jpg
New Jersey July 15, 1925 November 22, 1929[note 3]
Nelson T. Johnson
Nelson T. Johnson cph.3c35451.jpg
Oklahoma February 1, 1930 September 17, 1935
George Marshall
George C. Marshall, U.S. Secretary of State.jpg
Virginia December 20, 1945 January 1947

List of ambassadors to the Republic of China

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Nelson T. Johnson
Nelson T. Johnson cph.3c35451.jpg
Oklahoma September 17, 1935 May 14, 1941
Clarence E. Gauss
Clarence Gauss.png
Connecticut May 26, 1941 November 14, 1944
Patrick J. Hurley
Oklahoma January 8, 1945 September 22, 1945
John Leighton Stuart
John Leighton Stuart1948.jpg
Zhejiang Province July 19, 1946 August 2, 1949

The Communists took the Nationalist capital of Nanjing in April 1949, but Stuart was not recalled from China until August 1949. The United States did not recognize the new government of the People's Republic of China upon its founding in October 1949. The Consulate in Taipei was upgraded to an embassy in 1953, and therefore the Ambassador to China maintained residence at Taipei, Taiwan, in the Republic of China until relations were severed in 1979. (See: Former American Consulate in Taipei)

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Karl L. Rankin
American Ambassador Karl Rankin 藍欽大使.jpg
Maine April 2, 1953 December 30, 1957
Everett F. Drumright
Photograph of Everett F. Drumright 59-SO-82-VS-540-58.jpg
Oklahoma March 8, 1958 March 8, 1962
Alan Goodrich Kirk
Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk (cropped).jpg
New York July 5, 1962 January 18, 1963
Jerauld Wright
U.S. Ambassador Jerauld Wright 美國大使賴特.jpg
District of Columbia June 29, 1963 July 25, 1965
Walter P. McConaughy
Photograph of Walter P. McConaughy 59-SO-186-VS-255-53.jpg
Alabama June 28, 1966 April 4, 1974
Leonard S. Unger
Photograph of Leonard S. Unger 59-SO-335-VS-1078-62.jpg
Maryland May 25, 1974 January 19, 1979

For a list of de facto U.S. ambassadors to Taiwan since 1979, see list of Directors of the American Institute in Taiwan.

List of chiefs of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing

Between May 1973 and March 1979 prior to the official establishment of diplomatic relations, the United States dispatched a head of U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing.

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
David K. E. Bruce
David K. E. Bruce.jpg
Virginia May 14, 1973 September 25, 1974
George H. W. Bush
Vice President George H. W. Bush portrait.jpg
Texas September 26, 1974 December 7, 1975
Thomas S. Gates Jr.
Thomas S Gates Jr..jpg
Pennsylvania May 6, 1976 May 8, 1977
Leonard Woodcock
Leonard F. Woodcock.jpg
Michigan July 26, 1977 March 7, 1979[note 4]

List of ambassadors to the People's Republic of China

The United States established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and terminated them with the Republic of China, on January 1, 1979. The American Embassy at Taipei closed February 28, 1979, while the American Liaison Office at Beijing was redesignated the American Embassy on March 1, 1979.

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Leonard Woodcock
Leonard F. Woodcock.jpg
Michigan March 7, 1979 February 13, 1981
Arthur W. Hummel Jr.
Arthur W Hummel Jr.jpg
Maryland September 24, 1981 September 24, 1985
Winston Lord
Winston Lord.jpg
New York November 19, 1985 April 23, 1989
James Lilley
James Roderick Lilley.jpg
Maryland May 8, 1989 May 10, 1991
J. Stapleton Roy
Roy Stapleton.jpg
Pennsylvania August 20, 1991 June 17, 1995
James R. Sasser
Jim sasser.jpg
Tennessee February 14, 1996 July 1, 1999
Joseph Prueher
Ambassador Joseph Prueher.jpg
Tennessee December 15, 1999 May 1, 2001
Clark T. Randt Jr.
Clark T Randt Jr.jpg
Connecticut July 28, 2001 January 20, 2009
Jon Huntsman Jr.
Ambassador Jon Huntsman.jpg
Utah August 28, 2009 April 30, 2011
Gary Locke
Gary Locke official portrait.jpg
Washington August 16, 2011 February 21, 2014
Max Baucus
Portrait of Ambassador Max Baucus.jpg
Montana March 20, 2014 January 16, 2017
Terry E. Branstad
Terry Branstad official photo.jpg
Iowa July 12, 2017 September 14, 2020

See also


  1. ^ Diplomatic relations with China interrupted on February 12, 1912 upon the abdication of Puyi.
  2. ^ Diplomatic relations with China interrupted on February 12, 1912 upon the abdication of Puyi.
  3. ^ Diplomatic relations with Beijing's Beiyang government terminated and recognition given to Nanjing's National Government on October 1, 1928.
  4. ^ Upon normalization of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, Leonard Woodcock was promoted from liaison to ambassador in the new embassy.



  1. ^ Noble, Jason (May 22, 2017). "Terry Branstad confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China". Des Moines Register. Des Moines. Retrieved May 22, 2017.


External links

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This page was last edited on 23 September 2020, at 20:36
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