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China orders US to close Chengdu consulate in retaliatory move

The Hill logo The Hill 7/24/2020 J. Edward Moreno
China orders US to close Chengdu consulate in retaliatory move © Getty Images China orders US to close Chengdu consulate in retaliatory move

China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu, a move that comes after the U.S. forced Beijing to shut down its consulate in Houston this week.

On Tuesday the U.S. government accused China of working to steal intellectual property at their Houston consulate, giving them three days to close the operation down. Chinese officials called the move an "unprecedented escalation" and vowed retaliation.

"The US move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-US Consular Convention," China's foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. "It gravely harmed China-US relations. The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the US. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices."

"The current situation in China-US relations is not what China desires to see, and the US is responsible for all this. We once again urge the US to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track," they added.

The United States has an embassy in Beijing and consulates in five other mainland cities - Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang and Wuhan. The consulate in Chengdu is responsible for monitoring the western provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet, two regions that have become at times sensitive as China faces international criticism and accusations of human rights abuses.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech on Thursday that the U.S. must reject "blind engagement" with Beijing and empower the Chinese people against the ruling Communist Party.

This week the FBI said it believes the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harboring a Chinese researcher, Tang Juan, who is accused of lying about her connection to China's military wing on a visa application.

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