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List of ambassadors of the United States to China

  (Redirected from United States Ambassador to China)

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.

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
Terry Branstad official photo.jpg
Terry Branstad

since July 12, 2017[1]
NominatorThe President of the United States
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Inaugural holderLeonard Woodcock
FormationMarch 1, 1979
WebsiteU.S. Embassy - Beijing

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.[2] 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 EmpireEdit

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Caleb Cushing   Massachusetts June 12, 1844 August 27, 1844
Alexander Hill Everett   Massachusetts October 26, 1846 June 28, 1847
John W. Davis   Indiana October 6, 1848 May 25, 1850
Humphrey Marshall   Kentucky July 4, 1853 January 27, 1854
Robert Milligan McLane   Maryland November 3, 1854 December 12, 1854
Peter Parker   Massachusetts July 15, 1856 August 25, 1857
William B. Reed   Pennsylvania May 3, 1858 November 11, 1858
John Elliott Ward   Georgia August 10, 1859 December 15, 1860
Anson Burlingame   Massachusetts August 20, 1862 November 21, 1867
John Ross Browne   California October 28, 1868 July 5, 1869
Frederick Low   California April 27, 1870 July 24, 1873
Benjamin Avery   California November 29, 1874 November 8, 1875
George Seward   California April 24, 1876 August 16, 1880
James Burrill Angell   Michigan August 16, 1880 October 4, 1881
John Russell Young   New York August 17, 1882 April 7, 1885
Charles Harvey Denby   Indiana October 1, 1885 July 8, 1898
Edwin H. Conger   Iowa July 8, 1898 April 4, 1905
William Woodville Rockhill   District of Columbia June 17, 1905 June 1, 1909
William J. Calhoun   Illinois April 21, 1910 February 26, 1913[note 1]

List of Envoys to the Republic of ChinaEdit

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Paul Samuel Reinsch   Wisconsin November 15, 1913 September 15, 1919
Charles Richard Crane   Illinois June 12, 1920 July 2, 1921
Jacob Gould Schurman   New York September 12, 1921 April 15, 1925
John Van Antwerp MacMurray   New Jersey July 15, 1925 November 22, 1929[note 2]
Nelson T. Johnson   Oklahoma February 1, 1930 September 17, 1935

List of Ambassadors to the Republic of ChinaEdit

Name Portrait Home state Presented credentials Terminated
Nelson T. Johnson   Oklahoma September 17, 1935 May 14, 1941
Clarence E. Gauss   Connecticut May 26, 1941 November 14, 1944
Patrick J. Hurley   Oklahoma January 8, 1945 September 22, 1945
John Leighton Stuart   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   Maine April 2, 1953 December 30, 1957
Everett F. Drumright   Oklahoma March 8, 1958 March 8, 1962
Alan G. Kirk   New York July 5, 1962 January 18, 1963
Jerauld Wright   District of Columbia June 29, 1963 July 25, 1965
Walter P. McConaughy   Alabama June 28, 1966 April 4, 1974
Leonard S. Unger   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 BeijingEdit

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   Virginia May 14, 1973 September 25, 1974
George H. W. Bush   Texas September 26, 1974 December 7, 1975
Thomas S. Gates Jr.   Pennsylvania May 6, 1976 May 8, 1977
Leonard Woodcock   Michigan July 26, 1977 March 7, 1979[note 3]

List of Ambassadors to the People's Republic of ChinaEdit

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   Michigan March 7, 1979 February 13, 1981
Arthur W. Hummel Jr.   Maryland September 24, 1981 September 24, 1985
Winston Lord   New York November 19, 1985 April 23, 1989
James Lilley   Maryland May 8, 1989 May 10, 1991
J. Stapleton Roy   Pennsylvania August 20, 1991 June 17, 1995
Jim Sasser   Tennessee February 14, 1996 July 1, 1999
Joseph Prueher   Tennessee December 15, 1999 May 1, 2001
Clark T. Randt Jr.   Connecticut July 28, 2001 January 20, 2009
Jon Huntsman Jr.   Utah August 28, 2009 April 30, 2011
Gary Locke   Washington August 16, 2011 February 21, 2014
Max Baucus   Montana March 20, 2014 January 20, 2017
Terry Branstad   Iowa July 12, 2017 Incumbent

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Diplomatic relations with China interrupted on February 12, 1912 upon the abdication of Puyi.
  2. ^ Diplomatic relations with Beijing's Beiyang government terminated and recognition given to Nanjing's National Government on October 1, 1928.
  3. ^ 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. ^ "Xi Jinping Accepts Credentials from Eight Newly-appointed Ambassadors to China". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Noble, Jason (May 22, 2017). "Terry Branstad confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China". Des Moines Register. Des Moines. Retrieved May 22, 2017.


External linksEdit