US flag lowered at daybreak as Chengdu consulate formally shuts in retaliation for Houston closure

The American flag over the constructing was lowered at daybreak, in line with Chinese language state-run broadcaster CCTV, and onlookers have been moved again by police surrounding the consulate because it ready to close.
Beijing ordered the US embassy to shut on Friday in a tit-for-tat transfer, after Washington instructed China’s consulate in Houston, Texas, to stop operations, claiming it had been concerned in a US-wide Chinese language espionage effort.

The Chinese language authorities gave the Individuals the identical 72-hour timeframe to shut their Chengdu mission as Beijing had been given in Houston final week.

As that deadline expired, the Chinese language Ministry of Overseas Affairs mentioned in an announcement Monday that the Chengdu consulate closed at 10 a.m. “Related Chinese language authorities then entered from the principle entrance and took over,” the ministry mentioned in an announcement posted on Chinese language social media platform Weibo.

Over the weekend, a whole lot of individuals had gathered outdoors the US consulate within the metropolis of 16.5 million folks, taking selfies and waving Chinese language flags.

On Saturday, the US insignia was taken down, whereas on Sunday elimination work started on a plaque outdoors the embassy and transport containers have been loaded onto vehicles, as employees ready for the consulate to be closed.

Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan province, was an essential diplomatic outpost for the US, protecting a big swath of the nation, together with the controversial Tibetan Autonomous area.

A video posted to Twitter by the US Mission in China on Monday morning featured photos of the Chengdu consulate being opened by then-Vice President George Bush in 1985, earlier than itemizing the areas coated by the diplomatic mission, corresponding to Tibet.

“At the moment, we bid farewell to the US Consulate Normal in Chengdu. We’ll miss you ceaselessly,” the mission’s official publish mentioned.

Espionage allegations

Final Tuesday, Washington instructed China to “stop all operations and occasions” at its Houston consulate, claiming that the mission had been coordinating espionage at a Texas analysis establishment.

US officers instructed reporters Friday that employees on the Chinese language consulate “have been straight concerned in communications with researchers and guided them on what info to gather.”

In response to a senior State Division official, the thought to shut the Houston consulate emerged this spring after China interfered when US officers returned to the consulate in Wuhan to retrieve diplomatic supplies.

The Chinese language Overseas Ministry referred to as the closure of the Houston consulate an “unprecedented escalation” of ongoing tensions between the 2 international locations.

“The present state of affairs between China and america is one thing China doesn’t wish to see, and the duty rests totally with america,” the Chinese language overseas ministry mentioned within the assertion.

Because the deadline to shut the Chinese language diplomatic mission expired on Friday, US federal brokers entered the compound of the Houston consulate in black SUVs and white vans.

US-China tensions rise

Tensions between the US and China have been strained by the continuing commerce struggle, allegations over the coronavirus pandemic and US criticism of human rights abuses in each Hong Kong and Xinjiang, which Beijing denies.

However previously two weeks, relations have deteriorated even additional, amid the reciprocal consulate closures and the responsible plea of a Singaporean nationwide who admitted to spying for Beijing within the US.
Consultants have warned that the downsizing of diplomatic avenues out there for engagement leaves each international locations susceptible to misunderstandings and a additional escalation of tensions.
Talking on the Nixon Library in California on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted what he mentioned have been many years of failed coverage towards China.
Policemen march in front of the US consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China's Sichuan province, on July 26.

“As President Trump has made very clear, we’d like a technique that protects the American financial system and certainly our lifestyle. The free world should conquer this new tyranny,” Pompeo mentioned.

“The reality is that our insurance policies — and people of different free nations — resurrected China’s failing financial system, solely to see Beijing chunk the worldwide fingers that have been feeding it. We opened our arms to Chinese language residents, solely to see the Chinese language Communist Celebration exploit our free and open society.”

CNN’s James Griffiths contributed to this write.

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