U.S. workers began leaving the U.S. consulate in Chengdu on Sunday, within the time limit set by China. As relations between the two countries deteriorated, China gave Washington 72 hours to leave the consulate. That time is supposed to end on Monday.
The news agency Reuters reported that on Sunday, many uniformed and white-clad police took up positions on the opposite side of the entrance to the consulate premises, blocking traffic on the front road. Only consular and police vehicles are plying there.
In response to last week’s US order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston, China ordered the closure of the US consulate in Sichuan province on Friday. The reciprocal order to close the consulate is proof that the dispute has escalated.
Washington says the Chinese consulate in Houston has been closed to prevent US intellectual property theft. The order was issued on Tuesday with 72 hours from the country’s foreign office.
According to CNN, US federal agents and members of the local law enforcement force have entered the premises of the Chinese Consulate building in Houston, USA, just after the deadline. They entered there on Friday afternoon local time.
The United States is in conflict with China
Several black SUVs, trucks, two white vans and a locksmith van entered the Chinese consulate building, the report said. At this time there was the presence of enthusiastic spectators and journalists with cameras.
US President Donald Trump and his administration have been embroiled in conflict with China over a number of issues. These issues include trade, the coronavirus epidemic, human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and Hong Kong’s controversial new security law.
U.S. officials told reporters Friday that the consulate’s links to a fraud investigation at a Texas research institute were found. Chinese consulate officials were in direct contact with the researchers and were guiding them to collect the data.
Tensions between the United States and China have been high over the past few months over a number of issues. China has threatened retaliation, calling the move a “political provocation.” Beijing then ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.