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US closes consulate in Chengdu

PTI Chengdu | Updated on July 27, 2020 Published on July 27, 2020

Police stand at a cordon near the US Consulate General in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, on Monday   -  REUTERS

The US says it has closed its consulate in Chengdu, China. China ordered the consulate closed in retaliation for a US order to shut down the Chinese Consulate in Houston last week.

The American flag has been taken down at a US consulate in southwestern China, according to state media, as officials vacate the premises under order of the Chinese government.

State broadcaster CCTV said on its social media account that the flag was lowered at 6:18 a.m. on Monday at the US mission in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

Police have closed off a two to three block area around the consulate, cutting off virtually any view of the property. Vehicles could be seen moving in the distance behind multiple police lines.

Tit-for-tat closings

China ordered the closing of the consulate on Friday in retaliation for a US order to close the Chinese Consulate in Houston. The tit-for-tat closings marked a significant escalation in the tensions between the two countries over a range of issues, including trade, technology, security and human rights.

Moving trucks arrived at the US consulate Sunday afternoon and left a few hours later. Late at night, flatbed trailers entered the complex. One later emerged carrying a large shipping container and a crane.

Before the area was closed, the impending closure of the consulate drew a steady stream of onlookers over the weekend as Chengdu, like Houston, found itself in the limelight of international politics.

People stopped to take selfies and photos, jamming a sidewalk busy with shoppers and families with strollers on a sunny day in the city of Chengdu. A little boy posed with a small Chinese flag before plainclothes police shooed him away as foreign media cameras zoomed in.

Police had shut the street and sidewalk in front of the consulate and set up metal barriers along the sidewalk on the other side of the tree-lined road.

Uniformed and plainclothes officers kept watch on both sides of the barriers after scattered incidents following the Chengdu announcement on Friday, including a man who set off firecrackers and hecklers who cursed at foreign media shooting video and photos of the scene.

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Published on July 27, 2020
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