China fights back, shuts US consulate in Chengdu

China on Friday ordered the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu to close in retaliation for one of its missions in the United States being shuttered, capping a furious week of Cold War-style diplomacy.

The announcement of the closure followed a torrent of warnings from top American officials about the “tyranny” of China, and Chinese nationals being indicted in the United States on various charges.

Ordering the Chengdu consulate to cease operation was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures by the United States”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The current situation in China-US relations is not what China desires to see, and the US is responsible for all this.”

The ministry emphasised the closure was directly in response to the United States on Tuesday ordering the Chinese consulate in Houston to shut down.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week the Houston mission was a “hub of spying and intellectual property theft”.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio called the consulate the “central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies and influence operations in the United States”.

China described the allegations as “malicious slander”.

The order on Houston came a day after the US Justice Department unveiled the indictment of two Chinese nationals for allegedly hacking hundreds of companies and attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine research.

The Justice Department then announced Thursday indictments of four Chinese researchers it said lied about their ties to the People’s Liberation Army, with one escaping arrest by taking refuge in China’s San Francisco consulate.

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