China said in Monday it had taken possession of the US consulate in Chengdu hours after the US flag outside the building was lowered, following a Chinese order for the US to leave the building in response to the US move to evict Beijing from its consulate in Houston.
Chinese state broadcaster CGTN said the flag was lowered on the building at about 6:18am local time on Monday (22:48 GMT on Sunday).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a social media post that the consulate in southwestern Sixhuan province had been closed a few hours later.
“At 10am on July 27th according to the Chinese side’s request, the US consulate was closed,” the ministry said. “Afterwards, Chinese authorities entered through the front entrance and took it over.”
The consulate closures are a sharp escalation of the disputes between the two countries, already damaged by disagreements over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, its new security law in Hong Kong, the situation in Xinjiang, and trade and technology.
The deadline for the Americans to exit Chengdu has been unclear, but the Chinese consulate in Houston in the US state of Texas was given 72 hours to close after the original order was made.
The embassy had a couple of hundred staff and Yu said that China had said some were working “inconsistent with their capacity”.
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