By Adedapo Adesanya
In a retaliatory move, China’s foreign ministry has told the US embassy on Friday morning to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
This is coming days after the American government led by President Donald Trump abruptly ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas.
“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 in a statement.
“The Ministry also made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General,” it further said.
Following the US offensive on Wednesday, 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 US government has always accused China of engaging in massive illegal spying for years and influencing operations, claiming that those activities have increased over the past few years.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the order to close the consulate was a “political provocation unilaterally launched by the US side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the US.”
On Thursday, the US Secretary of State, Mr Mike Pompeo, said in a speech that the US 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”.
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.
Experts noted that China resorted to closing the Chengdu consulate, instead of the Wuhan consulate as many believed because it is where the US gathers information about Tibet and China’s development of strategic weapons in neighbouring regions.
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