The Fiji Times

US-China relations slide

Beijing orders consulate closure in tit-for-tat move

-

BEIJING/HOUSTON China ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu, responding to a US demand for China to close its Houston consulate, as relations between the world’s two largest economies deteriorat­e.

The order to close the Chengdu consulate in southweste­rn China’s Sichuan province continued Beijing’s recent practice of like-for-like responses to Washington’s actions.

Beijing had threatened retaliatio­n after the

Trump administra­tion this week gave it 72 hours — until Friday — to vacate its consulate in the Texas city, and had urged the United States to reconsider.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the consulate had been “a hub of spying and intellectu­al property theft.”

Senior US officials said on Friday espionage activity by China’s diplomatic missions was occurring all over the United States, but its Houston consulate was one of the worst offenders and its activity went well over the line of what was acceptable.

A senior State Department official also linked espionage activity at China’s Houston consulate to China’s pursuit of research into a vaccine for the new coronaviru­s.

At the Houston consulate on Friday, about 100 Chinese activists gathered, shouting slogans denouncing China’s ruling Communist Party. Some held American flags.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorat­ed sharply this year over issues ranging from trade and technology to the coronaviru­s pandemic, China’s territoria­l claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China informed the US Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishm­ent and operation of the US Consulate General in Chengdu,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

 ?? Picture: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Files ?? China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in Chengdu in response to a US order for China to shut its Houston consulate.
Picture: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Files China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in Chengdu in response to a US order for China to shut its Houston consulate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji