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China orders tit-for-tat closure of US consulate

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Police officers march past the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China July 25, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Police officers march past the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China July 25, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

REUTERS

Police officers march past the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China July 25, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Security was tight outside the US consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu yesterday as staff prepared to leave, a day after China ordered it to close in response to a US order for China to shut its consulate in Houston.

The tit-for-tat consulate closures have brought a sharp deterioration in relations between the countries, which have the world's two largest economies.

Shortly after the Houston closure order took effect last Friday, a group of men who appeared to be US officials were seen forcing open a back door to the facility.

China's ministry of foreign affairs said yesterday that violated international and bilateral agreements and China would respond, without elaborating how.

In Chengdu, a US consulate emblem inside the compound was taken down and staff could be seen moving about. Three removal vans later entered the compound. Police gathered outside and closed off the street to traffic in the south-western Chinese city.

A steady stream of people walked along the street opposite the entrance throughout the day, many stopping to take photos or videos before police moved them on.

Plain-clothes officers detained a man who tried to hold up a sign. It was not clear what the sign said.

Neither the consulate nor the US embassy in Beijing have responded to requests for comment on the closure.

Sunday Independent