Daily US Times: China has ordered to close US consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu, in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries.
China said the move was a “necessary response” to the US. China’s move comes after the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston earlier this week.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US decision of closing China’s Houston consulate was taken because China was “stealing” intellectual property.
The Houston consulate came under scrutiny on Tuesday when people overlooking the consulate building’s courtyard noticed several bins on fire.
Tensions have been rising between China and the US over several key issues.
President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with China over coronavirus pandemic, trade and as well as China’s imposition of controversial new security law in Hong Kong.
China announced the decision hours after Mr Pompeo hardened his tone further in a speech on Thursday at the library of former President Richard Nixon, whose 1972 China visit heralded a period of improved relations.
Mr Pompeo said: “Today, China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else.”
“The free world must triumph over this new tyranny.”
What has China said?
China’s foreign ministry said the closure was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable actions taken by the United States”.
“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,” Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
According to the editor of China’s Global Times, China gave the US till Monday to close the consulate in Chengdu.
The US mission in Chengdu was established in 1985 and currently has more than 200 staff – 150 hired locally. The mission is seen as strategically important because it allows the US to gather information on the autonomous region of Tibet, where there has been long-running pressure for independence.
With its industry and growing services sector, Chengdu also is seen by the US as providing opportunities for exports of machinery, agricultural products and cars.
Meanwhile, The FBI has said that a Chinese scientist suspected of visa fraud and concealing ties to the military has fled to China’s consulate in San Francisco.
Prosecutors allege that the case is part of China’s programme to send undercover army scientists to the United States.