U.S. consulate in Chengdu shuts after China orders closure

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Police stand at a cordon near the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, July 27, 2020, as a deadline is due to expire for the departure of the final group of U.S. personnel from the consulate after China ordered its closure in response to a U.S. order for China to shut its consulate in Houston. REUTERS/Thomas Peter reuters_tickers

This content was published on July 27, 2020 – 04:34

By Martin Quin Pollard and Thomas Peter

CHENGDU, China (Reuters) – Beijing announced the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu was closed as of 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday, after it ordered the facility be shut in retaliation for China being ousted from its consulate in Houston, Texas.

Police in Chengdu restricted access to the area around the consulate on Monday morning, and four officials in personal protective gear could be seen walking towards the consulate at about 10:24 a.m. local time.

China ordered the closure of the facility on Friday after Washington last week gave China 72 hours to vacate its consulate in Houston, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

State broadcaster CCTV shared a video on its Twitter-like Weibo account, taken by a reporter, of the American flag in front of the consulate in Chengdu being lowered at 6:18 a.m. on Monday.

On Sunday night, a crane was seen entering the consulate compound and hoisting at least one container onto a large truck.

On Saturday evening, a worker was seen using tools including a hammer and chisel to remove fittings around a plaque outside the main entrance.

U.S.-China relations have plunged to their worst in decades over a range of disputes, from trade and technology to the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard and Thomas Peter; writing by Tony Munroe; editing by Richard Pullin and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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