15:48 24.07.2020

China orders U.S. to close consulate in Chengdu amid rising diplomatic tensions

Source: NBC News
China orders U.S. to close consulate in Chengdu amid rising diplomatic tensions

China on Friday ordered the United States shut its consulate in the city of Chengdu, the latest in a round of tit-for-tat measures as relations between the two powers deteriorate dramatically.

The move, which was in direct retaliation for the U.S. closing of the country's diplomatic post in Houston, came within hours of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that America's decades-long policy of engagement with China had failed.

"The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"The current situation in Chinese-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see. The United States is responsible for all this," the ministry said. "We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track."

Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, is one of the biggest cities in western China. The U.S. consulate — opened in 1983 — covers the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Pompeo's comments at the Nixon Library in southern California Thursday emphatically underscored the United States' hardening stance.

The Secretary of State declared that the U.S. policy of engaging with China to try and induce change — which pointedly began with President Richard Nixon's first visit to the country in 1972 — had not worked.

"The kind of engagement we have been pursuing has not brought the change inside China that President Nixon hoped to induce," he said.

"Today China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else," Pompeo added.

Accusing the Chinese of stealing U.S. intellectual property and taking American jobs, Pompeo said the U.S. would now "act not on the basis of what Chinese leaders say, but how they behave."

Pompeo's remarks followed a series of speeches by Trump administration officials this week criticizing China as relations become increasingly strained on issues of trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the South China Sea, Hong Kong and human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

In a furious response to Pompeo's speech, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying accused him of "launching a new crusade" against China.

"Pompeo's speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library suggests that he wants to present himself as the John Foster Dulles of the 21st Century, launching a new crusade against China in a globalized world," she posted on Twitter, referring to the prominent mid-century American diplomat best know for his assertive stance toward Communism and the Soviet Union.

"What he is doing is as futile as an ant trying to shake a tree," she added. 

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