China will be closing United States Consulate in southwestern city of Chengdu in retaliation for the forced closure of the Chinese diplomatic facility in Houston.
According to media reports, The closure of the Chengdu facility is expected to escalate tensions between China and the US.
The US consulate in Chengdu opened in 1985 and is strategically important as it covers the country’s southwestern region, including the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Tibet autonomous region, and Chongqing.
The consulate became widely known when Wang Lijun, former police chief and vice mayor of Chongqing, traveled there on February 6, 2012, in an attempt to defect after falling out with former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai.
Earlier Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that the order constituted an “unprecedented escalation” in tensions, following months of deteriorating relations between Washington, D.C. and Beijing.
“If the U.S. continues to go down the wrong path, we will resolutely respond,” Wang said.
Wang’s remarks came hours after Houston emergency services were called to the consulate following reports of staff burning documents there.
China FO accused the U.S. of harassing diplomatic staff and intimidating Chinese students, confiscating personal electrical devices and detaining them without cause. Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel also recently received bomb and death threats, it added.
It should be noted that the United States of America maintains five consulates on the Chinese mainland – in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, Chengdu and Wuhan – as well as a consulate general for Hong Kong and Macau.
Furthermore there were also initial suggestions that the US consulate in Wuhan would be targeted by Beijing for closure.