U.S. Chengdu consulate

By Agency Reporter

China has retaliated the U.S. order that it should close its Houston consulate, by also ordering the U.S. to close its Chengdu consulate.

China gave the U.S. the order on Friday, with a 72 hour deadline.

Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter that the Chinese side notified the U.S. side at 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Friday.

It means the Chengdu consulate will be closed by 10 a.m. on Monday.

The order to close the consulate in Chengdu, in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, was seen as roughly reciprocal in terms of scale and impact, continuing China’s recent practice of like-for-like responses to U.S. actions.

China had warned it would retaliate after it was unexpectedly given 72 hours – until Friday – to vacate its Houston consulate, and had urged the United States to reconsider.

“The U.S. move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-U.S. Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-U.S. relations,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China informed the U.S. Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu,” it said.

Chinese stock markets were sold off heavily after the announcement, leading regional losses with a 3.5% fall in the blue chip index, while the yuan dropped to a two-week low.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorated sharply this year over a range of issues, from trade and technology to the novel coronavirus, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech on Thursday the United States and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways, calling it the “mission of our time”.

Wu Xinbo, a professor and American studies expert at Fudan University in Shanghai said the Chengdu consulate is important to the U.S. because it is where it gathers information about Tibet and China’s development of strategic weapons in neighbouring regions.