U.S. Chengdu consulate prepares to close

Staff prepared to leave the U.S. consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu on Saturday (July 25), a day after China ordered it to close in response to the U.S. telling China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas.

Tit-for-tat consulate closures have sharply escalated tensions between the two powers.

A consulate emblem inside the compound in Chengdu, southwestern China, was removed as staff could be seen pushing trolleys. Several consulate vehicles came and went.

Police, including many plain clothes officers, gathered outside and closed off the street to traffic.

At the Chinese Houston consulate, staff packed up belongings watched by jeering anti-Communist protesters.

The Trump administration had given China until 4 p.m. on Fridayto vacate its consulate in the Texas city.

Shortly after the closure order took effect, a group of men who appeared to be U.S. officials were seen by Reuters forcing open a back door to the building using power tools and a crowbar.

Two uniformed members of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security then arrived to guard the door.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the consulate had been "a hub of spying and intellectual property theft".

The U.S. consulate in Chengdu was given 72 hours to close, or until 10 a.m. on Monday, the editor of China's Global Times tabloid said on Twitter.

Neither the Chengdu consulate, nor the U.S. embassy in Beijing, have responded to Reuters' requests for comment.

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