James R Lilley
- Category : 1928-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 4
American diplomat who served as United States ambassador to China at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Born to American parents in China, Lilley learned Mandarin at a young age before his family moved back to the United States at the outbreak of World War II. He also spoke French fluently, in addition to English. He served in the United States Army before earning an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a master's in international relations from George Washington University. He then joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where he would work for nearly 30 years in a variety of Asian countries prior to becoming a diplomat.
Before being appointed ambassador to China in 1989, he was director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington's de facto embassy on the island, and ambassador to South Korea. After the suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests, Lilley was critical of the Chinese crackdown and harboured a prominent dissident in the embassy, but worked to prevent long-term damage to United States–China relations. After his retirement, he published a memoir, China Hands (2004), and worked as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
In 1954, he married Sally Booth, with whom he had three sons. James R. Lilley died on 12 November 2009, aged 81, at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C., from complications of prostate cancer.