In response to the closure of a Chinese consulate in Houston, China has asked the United States to close its diplomatic mission in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
The license to operate the diplomatic mission is withdrawn, as the Beijing Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Friday. China’s actions are “a legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable acts of the United States,” the ministry said. “The responsibility rests entirely with the United States.”
China Tells USA to Shutdown Chengdu Consulate
China is again asking the United States to correct its decision, creating the conditions for a return to normal bilateral relations. The United States previously ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas to be closed, significantly increasing tensions between the two countries. US President Donald Trump also did not rule out action against other Chinese diplomatic missions.
United States Embassy in Beijing
The United States has an embassy in Beijing and consulates in five other cities in mainland China: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang and Wuhan. There is also a consulate in Hong Kong.
The U.S. State Department indicated that Chinese diplomats had violated U.S. laws and regulations.
State Department accuses China of espionage
The US State Department said the Chinese government has long been carrying out illegal spying and interference operations in the United States. These have increased significantly in recent years. Government officials intervened in US domestic politics, stole intellectual property, put pressure on American managers, and threatened families of Americans with Chinese roots in China.
The ordered closings exacerbate tensions between the two largest economies, which are already in dispute over China’s handling of the Corona virus outbreak, trade policy and tough Chinese policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. From a Chinese perspective, the relationship is as bad as it has been since diplomatic relations began in 1979. There had been wrangling for diplomats on both sides before.
Before the Chinese consulate closed in Houston on Friday, the US government further tightened its tone towards Beijing. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of interning Muslim minorities in “concentration camps” in the Xinjiang region. Pompeo has used the term “internment camp” in the past to describe the camps where the US government estimates that one million people are detained.
In a keynote speech on American-Chinese relations in Yorba Linda, California, Pompeo China also accused, among other things, of “stealing our valuable intellectual property and business secrets” and making use of “slave labor”.
He called on the US allies to act jointly against China. “Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations,” said Pompeo. “We cannot tackle this challenge alone.” He called the United Nations, NATO, the G-7 and G-20 states and their “common economic, diplomatic and military power”. Trump’s government stands for an “America first” policy that has challenged decades-old multilateral alliances.