Beijing: On Friday, China ordered the closure of the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu in retaliation for the US’s closure of Beijing’s diplomatic mission in Houston this week.
The move 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 statement added.
Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have soared, and the situation has deteriorated further after Washington ordered the closure of the Houston consulate within 72 hours on Tuesday.
The United States stole intellectual property rights on the grounds of closing China. This is the day after the US Department of Justice announced the charges against two Chinese citizens. The hacker allegedly invaded hundreds of companies and tried to steal research on the coronavirus vaccine.
China threatens to retaliate, and if the United States does not withdraw its decision, it will retaliate against closing the consulate.
In a statement on Friday, China urged the United States to once again abandon its position and “create the necessary conditions for the normalization of bilateral relations.”
The United States has an embassy in Beijing, five consulates in mainland China, and one consulate in Hong Kong.
According to its website, the Chengdu Consulate was established in 1985 and currently has approximately 200 employees, of which approximately 150 are local Chinese employees.
In the past few years, it has been the seat of diplomatic drama.
In 2013, there were news reports that a top-secret map leaked by Edward Snowden, a fugitive intelligence analyst, showed US surveillance facilities in embassies and consulates around the world, including the Chengdu consulate. In 2013, China requested the US Explain the spy program.
Senior Chinese official Wang Lijun fled Chengdu from his powerful boss Bo Xilai in 2012. Bo Xilai was the head of the nearby metropolis Chongqing.
In recent days, Washington and Beijing have discussed a series of issues from trade to the corona pandemic and China’s policies on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio earlier called China’s Houston consulate the “central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies and influence operations in the United States”.
Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the consulate was the “epicentre” of Chinese efforts to steal “sensitive information to build up their military”.
The comments drew ire from Beijing, with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin labelling Washington’s allegations “malicious slander”.