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China orders U.S. to close consulate in Chengdu in response to shuttering of Houston consulate

Earlier this week, amid accusations of espionage, the United States ordered China to shut down their consulate in Houston

Updated: July 24, 2020 - 11:58am

China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu. The move comes in response to the Trump administration's order to shut down Beijing's embassy in Houston, following accusations of Chinese nationals attempting to steal medical research in Texas.

China vowed to retaliate, but not before asking the administration to overturn its "wrong decision."

Chinese-American relations have deteriorated considerably over the last few months, amid accusations about the Chinese government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing espionage concerns, the new national security law in Hong Kong, and the abuse of the Uighur people. 

This week, the FBI announced that it believes the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco is harboring a Chinese researcher accused of lying about her military background on a visa application. The announcement came on the heels of the Justice Department announcing an 11-count indictment against two Chinese hackers accuses of targeting hundreds of businesses and institutions over a decade-long span of criminal activity. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Europe earlier this week, trying to convince U.S. allies to take steps to act against the mounting Chinese threat. In a speech on Thursday, Pompeo said that a considerable number of Chinese students and researchers "come here to steal our intellectual property and to take this back to their country."

Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said: “The current situation in Chinese-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see. The United States is responsible for all this. 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." 

Aside from the Chengdu consulate, the U.S. has consulates in four other mainland China cities -- Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang and Wuhan -- in addition to an embassy in Beijing and a consulate in Hong Kong. 

The consulate in Chengdu monitors actions in Tibet and other southwestern Chinese areas inhabited by non-ethnic Chinese minorities. 

In March, American journalists working for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal were kicked out of China. This was a retaliatory effort to the administration's decision to limit the number of U.S. visas available for employees of Chinese state media outlets.

Nine state media outlets in the U.S. have been required to register as "foreign missions" on account of their ties with the ruling Communist Party.