China orders US to shut Chengdu Consulate

China orders US to shut Chengdu Consulate

China has ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu. 

The order which was issued on Friday July 24, 2020, was a responde to a U.S. demand this week that China close its Houston consulate

The order to close the consulate in Chengdu, in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, was seen as roughly reciprocal in terms of scale and impact, continuing China’s recent practice of like-for-like responses to U.S. actions. 

China had earlier warned that it would retaliate after it was unexpectedly given 72 hours - until Friday - to vacate its Houston consulate, and had urged the United States to reconsider.

“The U.S. move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-U.S. Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-U.S. relations,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China informed the U.S. Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu,” it said.

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said some Chengdu consulate personnel were “conducting activities not in line with their identities” and had interfered in China’s affairs and harmed China’s security interests, but he did not say how.

The consulate was given 72 hours to close, or until 10 a.m. on Monday, the editor of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter.

The consulate opened in 1985 and has almost 200 employees including about 150 locally hired staff, according to its website.

It was not immediately clear how many are there now after a significant number of U.S. diplomats were evacuated from China during the early stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Global share markets fell after the announcement, led by a heavy drop in Chinese blue chips, which fell 4.4%, while the yuan hit a two-week low.