Asia Minute: Pentagon’s Top Asia Official Resigns

Dec 13, 2019

The United States and China appear to be ready to go ahead with a limited trade agreement. While that development is getting the attention of financial markets and the media, there’s another story relating to the U.S. and China that’s also of note.

The Pentagon’s top official on Asia is resigning. Randall Schriver is leaving his post as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs — after nearly two years on the job.

He’s known as a China critic, and news of his departure has been featured prominently on many Asian media websites. Schriver was one of the first senior U.S. officials to publicly criticize China for its mass detention of ethnic minorities including Uighurs and other Muslims.

The South China Morning Post notes he was the “first U.S. official to call the internment facilities in Xinjiang ‘concentration camps.”

A Defense Department spokesman said Schriver is leaving to spend more time with his family.

Foreign Policy reports that he was “frustrated” and experiencing “friction” with other senior policymakers at the Pentagon.

A history major at Williams College, thirty years ago Schriver was a naval intelligence officer.

According to his official Pentagon biography, in the mid-1990’s he was “the senior official responsible for the day to day management of U.S. bilateral relations with the People’s Liberation Army and the bilateral security and military relationships with Taiwan.”

He later worked at the State Department — including a stint as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Foreign Affairs reports a number of senior policy positions remain unfilled at the Pentagon — including about a dozen requiring Senate confirmation.