American diplomats left Chengdu consulate amid row with China

American diplomats left Chengdu consulate amid row with China
Crowds of curious locals gathered outside the US diplomatic mission in Chengdu. Source: Reuters
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: American diplomats have left their Chengdu consulate after a 72-hour deadline expired.

China ordered the closure of the Chengdu consulate in response to the US closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas last week.

Staff were seen leaving the building before Monday’s deadline, a US flag was lowered and a plaque was removed.

China’s foreign ministry said Chinese staff entered the building after the deadline is over.

“The consulate has stood at the centre of our relations with the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years,” a US state department spokesperson said.

“We are disappointed by the Chinese Communist Party’s decision and will strive to continue our outreach to the people in this important region through our other posts in China,” the spokesperson added.

Local residents gathered outside as the US consulate closed, with many taking selfies and waving Chinese flags.

The US ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close last Wednesday, alleging that it had become a hub for spying and property theft.

Tensions have been escalating between the two countries over a number of issues including the coronavirus pandemic, trade and controversial new security law in Hong Kong.

A Singaporean man pleaded guilty in a US court last week to working as an agent of China

Four Chinese nationals were charged in a separate case with US visa fraud for allegedly lying about serving in China’s military. This also toom place in last week.

What happened in Chengdu?

Chinese state media showed pictures of workers removing diplomatic insignia from the building and lorries leaving the consulate.

State broadcaster CCTV posted a video of the US flag being taken down on Monday morning.

At that time, dozens of Chinese police were deployed outside the building, urging onlookers to move on.

Workers began to remove the diplomatic plaque from the US consulate on Sunday. Source: EPA

AFP news agency reports that boos were heard when a bus with tinted windows left the building on Sunday.

Last week, when Chinese diplomats left their mission in Houston, they were jeered by protesters.

The US foreign ministry said the closure of Houston consulate was a “legitimate and necessary response” to the actions taken by the US.

A statement from the ministry said staff at the consulate were “engaged in activities outside of their capacity, interfered in China’s internal affairs, and endangered China’s security and interests”.

The Chengdu consulate, established in 1985, represented US interests over a vast area of south-west China.

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