China on Friday ordered the United States to shutter its consulate in Chengdu following the closing of the country’s diplomatic post in Houston.
The announcement from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is the latest move amid rising diplomatic tension between the two superpowers, whose relations have become increasingly strained.
“The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The current situation in Chinese-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see. The United States is responsible for all this,” the ministry said. “We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.”
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On Wednesday, the State Department ordered China’s consulate in Houston to be closed — a decision the Chinese called an “outrageous and unjustified” provocation. The State Department said it took the action to “protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
U.S. officials this week announced charges against two Chinese researchers who they say lied about their ties to the Chinese military and the Communist Party when seeking visas to come to the U.S.
The FBI said a woman working at the University of California, Davis, is evading arrest by staying at China’s consulate in San Francisco. Earlier in the week, federal officials announced similar charges against Song Chen, a Stanford University researcher also accused of lying about his ties to the Chinese military.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced an indictment charging two Chinese nationals — both in China — with hacking governments, dissidents, human rights activists and private companies, including those engaged in COVID-19 vaccine research.
China has its embassy in Washington and — in addition to Houston — consulates in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The U.S. has its embassy in Beijing, and it has consulates in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang. It also has a consulate in the territory of Hong Kong.
Trade has been a contentious issue, with President Donald Trump often accusing China of taking advantage of the U.S.
And he has put the blame for the coronavirus pandemic squarely on China’s shoulder, stoking tension by frequently referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus” and “kung flu.”