Policemen march in front of the closed US Consulate in Chengdu, south-western China’s Sichuan province on Monday. (AFP)
By K J M Varma ;
CHINA on Monday said it took control of the US consulate in Chengdu after it was formally closed as per Beijing’s directive in retaliation to America’s move to shut down the Chinese diplomatic mission in Houston. “At 10 am July 27, as required by the Chinese side, the US Consulate General in Chengdu was closed,” a press release by Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Chengdu is the capital of south-west China’s Sichuan province.
“China’s competent authorities then entered through the front entrance and took over the premises,” it said. The American flag over the building was lowered at dawn, according to Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV, and onlookers were moved back as a heavy police presence surrounded the consulate, which Beijing ordered to shut on Friday in a tit-for-tat move.
Last week, the US Government ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston, Texas, claiming the mission had been involved in a larger Chinese espionage effort using diplomatic facilities around the US. The US State Department in a statement on Monday expressed disappointment over the closure, saying the consulate “has stood at the centre of our relations with the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years.”