China takes over US consulate premises in Chengdu as ties worsen

Noel Celis / AFP

China has taken over the premises of the US consulate in Chengdu on Monday after ordering its closure in response to the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

Police in Chengdu restricted access to the area around the consulate on Monday morning, and four officials in personal protective gear were seen walking towards the consulate at about 10:24 am (local time).

The US confirmed the closure of the consulate in a farewell video shared from the US embassy in China's Twitter account.

"The US consulate in Chengdu has been proudly promoting the mutual understanding between Americans and the people in Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan and Tibet since 1985. We will forever miss you," it said.

State broadcaster CCTV shared a video on its Twitter-like Weibo account, taken by a reporter, of the American flag in front of the consulate in Chengdu being lowered at 6:18 am on Monday.

On Sunday night, a crane was seen entering the consulate compound and hoisting at least one container onto a large truck.

On Saturday evening, a worker was seen using tools including a hammer and chisel to remove fittings around a plaque outside the main entrance.

US-China relations have plunged to their worst in decades over a range of disputes, from trade and technology to the COVID-19 pandemic, China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.

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