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China orders U.S. to shut Chengdu consulate, retaliating for Houston

BeijingChina ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu on Friday, July 24, responding to a U.S. demand this week that China close its Houston consulate, as relations between the world's two largest economies deteriorate.

The order to close the consulate in Chengdu, in southwestern China's Sichuan province, was seen as roughly reciprocal in terms of scale and impact, continuing China's recent practice of like-for-like responses to U.S. actions. China had warned it would retaliate after it was unexpectedly given 72 hours - until Friday - to vacate its Houston consulate, and had urged the United States to reconsider.

"The U.S. move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-U.S. Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-U.S. relations," China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference in Beijing.

The consulate opened in 1985 and has almost 200 employees including about 150 locally hired staff, according to its website. It was not immediately clear how many are there now after a significant number of U.S. diplomats were evacuated from China during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

The consulate was given 72 hours to close, or until 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday (July 27), the editor of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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