China orders US to shut consulate as tensions rise


China has ordered the US to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu as tensions continue to mount between the two countries.

The latest tit-for-tat escalation comes days after Washington told Beijing to cease its operations at the Chinese consulate in Houston after the US accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas.

The United States has an embassy in the Chinese capital Beijing and consulates in five other mainland cities – Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang and Wuhan – while it also has a consulate in Hong Kong.

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Beijing said the action taken in the southwestern city of Chengdu was “a legitimate and necessary response”.

A foreign ministry statement said: “The current situation in Chinese-US relations is not what China desires to see. The United States is responsible for all this.

“We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.”

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston within 72 hours.

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Washington said the closure was necessary “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information”.

Beijing rejected the allegations of data theft as “malicious slander” and warned the move was “breaking down the bridge of friendship” between the two nations.

The US consulate in Chengdu, China
China has told the US to shut its consulate in Chengdu

On Thursday, US authorities claimed China’s consulate in San Francisco was harbouring a Chinese researcher, Tang Juan, who is suspected of visa fraud and concealing her ties to the military.

It is alleged she lied about her background in the Communist Party’s military wing on a visa application to work at the University of California, and again during an FBI interview last month.

China said that the US had ordered it to close its Houston consulate in what it called a provocation that violates international law.

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The US and China have clashed repeatedly in recent months over issues including the coronavirus pandemic, trade and Hong Kong.

Earlier this week, the US charged two Chinese nationals with hacking “hundreds and hundreds” of people in the States and worldwide, including defence contractors and coronavirus researchers.

The pair were described as “one of the most prolific groups of hackers” the FBI has investigated.

China has repeatedly denied hacking the US and other rival powers.

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