The US closed its consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Monday, a victim of the rising tensions between the global powers, the AP reports. China ordered the mission closed late last week in retaliation for a US order to shut down the Chinese Consulate in Houston earlier the same week. The tit-for-tat closings marked a significant escalation in the multiple disputes between the two countries over a range of issues, including trade, technology, security, and human rights. A statement from the State Department said that the Chengdu consulate suspended operations at 10am. The American flag was taken down at 6:18am, China's state broadcaster CCTV said on its social media account.
“The consulate has stood at the center of our relations with the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years," the State Department's statement said. “We are disappointed by the Chinese Communist Party’s decision and will strive to continue our outreach to the people in this important region through our other posts in China.” The US has four other consulates in China and an embassy in Beijing. Police closed off a two- to three-block area around the Chengdu mission, cutting off virtually any view of the property including the flag. A few vehicles were allowed through after police checks, and others could be seen moving in the distance. The US alleged that the Houston consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. China said the allegations were “malicious slander.”
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