China now orders closure of US consulate in Chengdu

China has now ordered the closure of the United States consulate in Chengdu, days after Washington forced the Chinese consulate in Houston to cease operations.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US diplomats in China had been notified on Friday morning that Beijing was revoking the license for the Chengdu consulate in China’s southwest, which has been ordered to “stop all business and activities.”

It added that the US had “unilaterally provoked the incident” by ordering the closure of the Houston office, an action Beijing said “seriously violated international law and the basic norms of international relations.”

“The current situation between China and the United States is something China does not want to see, and the responsibility rests entirely with the United States,” the foreign ministry said. “We once again urge the US to immediately revoke the erroneous decision to create necessary conditions for the return of bilateral relations to normal.”

On Twitter, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said the order was “a legitimate and necessary response to the unilateral provocative move by the US to demand the closure of China’s Consulate General in Houston.”

The US State Department could not immediately be reached for comment, reports CNN.

Effectively, this means that two US consulates in China will soon be out of action, while the Chinese office in Houston is still running as of Friday Beijing time, with the deadline for its closure fast approaching.

US President Donald Trump has suggested he might order the closure of more Chinese consulates, with some officials and the FBI linking the diplomatic outposts to espionage and IP theft by China in the US.

Federal prosecutors are currently seeking a Chinese scientist accused of visa fraud who they say is hiding out in China’s consulate in San Francisco.
Relations between China and the US have plummeted in the past year, amid an ongoing trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and US criticism of China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.