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Staff and removal vans seen leaving U.S. consulate in Chengdu

Chengdu, China: Removal vans were seen outside the U.S. consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu on Saturday, July 25 as staff inside prepared to leave, a day after China ordered it to close in response to a U.S. order for China to shut its consulate in Houston.

Police gathered outside and closed off the street to traffic in the southwestern Chinese city as a steady stream of people walked along the street opposite the entrance throughout the day, many stopping to take photos or videos before police moved them on. Plain clothes officers detained a man who tried to hold up a sign. It was not clear what the sign said.

Neither the consulate nor the U.S. embassy in Beijing have responded to requests from Reuters for comment on the closure.
Residents in Chengdu expressed mixed views on the closure of the U.S. consulate there, with one saying that he thought it was a reciprocal action and another saying the incident made him "a little uncomfortable."
The order to close came after the Trump administration had given China until 4 p.m. on Friday, July 24 to vacate its Houston consulate after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it had been "a hub of spying and intellectual property theft." The U.S. consulate in Chengdu was also given 72 hours to close, or until 10 a.m. on Monday, July 27, the editor of China's Global Times tabloid said on Twitter.

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 U.S. diplomats were evacuated from China because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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