Citing the desire to spend more time with his wife, the chargé d'affaires of the U.S. embassy in Beijing, Dan Piccuta, has announced his retirement, a notice issued to embassy employees and obtained by The Cable says. As the most senior U.S. official currently serving in China, Piccuta's departure will leave the embassy "decapitated" as of July 1, a U.S. official source said. "If the process for selecting an ambassador to Beijing wasn't in high gear before, we better hope it is now," the official said. The U.S. embassy in Beijing will also need a formal, actual deputy chief of mission. One possibility -- that Bill Weinstein, who has been the effective DCM in Beijing for four months now, would be able to drop the "acting" title.
(The Cable previously reported that several people had turned down the Beijing ambassador job.)
Piccuta's announcement here:
From: Beijing All Embassy
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 5:36 PM
To: ALL EMBASSY BEIJING
Subject: BROADCAST NOTICE: Dan Piccuta - Retirement
It seems to me that for some time now we have been living in a non-stop diplomatic highlights film.
I won't soon forget the thrill of supporting our US Olympic family, the President and other Americans during the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. We can be proud to have safely and securely consolidated employees at our beautiful new embassy where proximity to colleagues and techno wizardry have catalyzed collaboration in our professional efforts. To that list we can now add our contributions to the engagement with China of a new U.S. administration through mutual efforts to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive bilateral relationship. Your accomplishments are too numerous to mention in more detail, but the depth, breadth and excellence of our agencies and posts in China are acclaimed as without equal among U.S. diplomatic missions.
Just as important have been successes in improving work-life balance throughout the Mission, in facilitating employment of our family members, and in promoting the sense of community and mutual support among employees, sections, and agencies as well as with constituent and neighboring posts.
I am hopeful that some have noticed the effort to provide deserving officers, specialists, family members and LES employees with opportunities for professional growth including in supervisory and leadership roles. Because of the ever-increasing diversity and talent of our team, the exit of any one colleague has never diluted our combined strength nor caused us or the Department concern. I am therefore confident that we will manage the many transitions we'll address in the coming months with exceptional competence and that we can count on each others' support as we prepare for new leadership throughout this terrific Mission.
As many of you know, Christina has been preparing our Hawaii home since March. No future challenge or incentive nor any measure of past success could fully repay two decades of sacrifice as a trailing spouse. Reflecting on our experience, I have great empathy for colleagues who meet the tandem, hardship and expeditionary demands of the military and our Foreign Service that require long periods of separation from loved ones.
Mindful of all of the above, I have earlier today asked the Office of Retirement and the EAP Bureau to act now on the retirement application I submitted for their review some months ago, and to initiate the formal DCM selection process, as I prepare to join Christina on the Big Island and to retire from the Foreign Service with effect from July 1.
UPDATE: Reports out late Friday that Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. has accepted the job of U.S. ambassador to China. Huntsman has been considered a possible Republican contender for president in 2012. Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin, served as a U.S. ambassador to Singapore under the first President George H.W. Bush, and later as deputy U.S. trade representative under Pres. George W. Bush.