China ordered the closure of a U.S. consulate on July 24, responding to the United States three days after Washington’s decision to close the Chinese embassy in Houston on espionage charges.
The Americans will have to close their diplomatic representation in the large city of Chengdu (southwest), announced the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This decision constitutes “a legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures of the United States”, the department said in a statement, without specifying if it had specific accusations against the American presence in Chengdu.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on 23 July, quoted by AFP, that the Chinese consulate in Houston was a hub for Chinese “espionage” and American “intellectual property theft”.
Chinese diplomacy has also failed to specify how soon the consulate should close its doors. In the case of Houston, the Trump administration gave Chinese diplomats only 72 hours to pack up.
“The present situation of Sino-American relations does not correspond to the wishes of China, and the United States is entirely responsible for it”, denounced Beijing, calling on Washington to “create the conditions necessary for the bilateral relations to return to normal”.
Beijing had already announced reprisals against the closure of its consulate in the big city of Texas (south).
Sino-American tension, already fuelled by trade disputes and mutual accusations about the origin of Covid-19, has risen a notch in recent weeks with Beijing’s imposition of national security law in Hong Kong.
Washington has denounced a law that destroys the autonomy of the former British colony and has taken retaliatory economic measures against the Chinese autonomous region. Beijing has accused interference in its internal affairs.