China orders closure of US consulate in Chengdu

The US Consulate-General in Chengdu is pictured on July 23, 2020 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China.Image copyright
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The US Consulate-General in Chengdu

China has ordered the closure of the US consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu, the latest in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries.

China said the move was a “necessary response” to the US, who ordered China to close its consulate in Houston earlier this week.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US decision was taken because China was “stealing” intellectual property.

Tensions have been rising between the US and China over several key issues.

The closure was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable actions taken by the United States”, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The current situation between China and the United States is something China does not want to see, and the US bears all responsibility for that.”

The US consulate in Chengdu, which was established in 1985 and currently has more than 200 members of staff, is strategically important because of its proximity to Tibet, correspondents say.

Earlier this week, the US government informed China that it had by the end of the week to close its consulate in Houston, Texas.

Mr Pompeo said the Chinese Communist Party was stealing “not just American intellectual property… but European intellectual property too… costing hundreds of thousands of jobs”.

“We are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave. And when they don’t, we’re going to take actions,” he said.

The Chinese consulate in Houston was one of five in the US, along with the embassy in Washington DC. It was not clear why it was singled out.

China reacted with anger, with its foreign ministry spokeswoman saying the reasons given by the US for closing the consulate were “unbelievably ridiculous”.

Hua Chunying urged the US to reverse its “erroneous decision”, or China would “react with firm countermeasures”.

President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China’s imposition of a controversial new security law in Hong Kong.

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