04 June 2015

Top White House Asia Policy Adviser–NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs Evan Medeiros–to Step Down; Daniel Kritenbrink Will Replace

Evan deserves a good rest after years of tireless service!

David Nakamura, “Top White House adviser on Asia policy is stepping down,” Washington Post, 4 June 2015.

President Obama’s top adviser on Asia policy is leaving his post at a time of growing uncertainty over China’s assertive behavior in the region, raising questions over the administration’s strategy ahead of a high-stakes visit from President Xi Jinping in the fall.

Evan Medeiros, a China expert who has worked at the National Security Council during all of Obama’s tenure, will step down as the agency’s Asia director on Thursday, officials said. He will be replaced by Daniel Kritenbrink, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

White House officials said the personnel change did not portend any shift in U.S. policy toward China. Foreign policy experts in Washington who know Medeiros described his departure as a personal decision after a long run at the NSC, where officials work long hours under high-pressure situations.

“Among the allies, Evan got high marks for his strategic approach,” said Michael Green, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who served as Asia director under President George W. Bush. “There’s a logic to him leaving on his own terms.”

In a statement, NSC spokesman Alistair Baskey called Medeiros “a key architect of the president’s Asia rebalance strategy, and especially toward China. He helped restructure the content and operation of our China policy in ways that shaped China’s choices as a rising power.” …

Others described National Security Adviser Susan Rice as being too consumed by problems in other parts in the world–including a pending nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli-Palestinian relations, the U.S. effort to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the security situation in Ukraine–to focus on China.

Medeiros served as the NSC’s China director before taking over as Asia director when Danny Russel moved from the White House to become the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs in 2013.

Kritenbrink, who has been at the embassy since 2013, also has a deep background in China at the State Department and he has also served in Japan. He speaks Mandarin and Japanese. His first big test will be the visit to the White House of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in two weeks.