China says that as a "necessary response" to the US order to close its consulate in Houston, the US is going to lose one of its consulates in China. The foreign ministry said Friday that it had ordered the closure of the consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the BBC reports. The consulate, established in 1985, has more than 200 employees and is responsible for monitoring Tibet and other western regions. The order came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech outlining a new hardline policy against Xi Jinping's regime, reports the New York Times. "If the free world doesn’t change Communist China, Communist China will change us," Pompeo said.
Pompeo, speaking at the Richard Nixon presidential library in California, warned that "free nations" must fight China's "new tyranny," the Guardian reports. Nixon "once said he feared he had created a 'Frankenstein' by opening the world to the CCP," Pompeo said, referring to the country's Communist party. "And here we are." He said the US had ordered the closure of the Houston consulate "because it was a hub of spying and IP theft." The tit-for-tat consulate closures have helped bring US-China relations to their lowest levels in decades, the AP reports. In a statement Friday, China's foreign ministry blamed the US for the "current situation" and urged Washington to "immediately retract its wrong decision" and lift the order to close the Houston consulate. (The FBI says a fugitive researcher is being harbored by another Chinese consulate.)