Beijing retaliates to Houston closure, orders U.S. to shut consulate in Chengdu

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, on Friday, ordered the United States to close its consulate in China’s south-west province of Chengdu. The order has been passed in retaliation to the Donald Trump administration’s move this week that ordered Beijing to shut its consulate in Houston, the Washington Post reported.

In what is being seen as Cold War-style diplomacy, China’s reaction has hinted another major escalation in the increasingly all-encompassing dispute between the two countries.

In a statement, China said that the closure of consulate in Chengdu was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures by the United States”, an NDTV report read.

On Tuesday, Washington abruptly ordered China to shut its consulate in Houston, Texas, accusing China of sponsoring operations that severely threatened “American intellectual property” and “American private information.”

China was ordered to close the consulate within 72 hours, which they saw as a grave violation of international law and of basic norms that govern international relations.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo criticized China for their failure to uphold the promises signed under the Cyber Security Agreement.

On Friday, in a statement, China urged the U.S to backtrack and “create the necessary condition for bilateral relations to return to normal”.

However, the Trump Administration, which has recently scaled up its criticism against china, stuck to its decision.

China rejected the allegations as “malicious slander” and warned that the closure of Houston consulate on such “short notice” was “breaking down the bridge of friendship between the two countries, India Today reported.

Several academics and policy makers in America are of the opinion that the Chinese retaliation was comparatively “measured”, Washington Post reported.

China’s decision to target Chengdu, and not one of the higher profile American missions, has hinted that China is trying to avoid derailing ties completely.

Additionally, analysts, reflecting on the present China-U.S. face off believe that the bilateral ties are yet to reach the worst point. The worst case scenario is being understood as one where both the countries will have withdrawn their embassies from each other’s countries, or one where they indulge in a military confrontation.

Nonetheless, there is consensus that the present bilateral relations are at their worst since 1972, when President Nixon began reaching out to the People’s Republic of China, which had initiated formal diplomatic relation between the two countries in 1979, the Washington Report added.

In a speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, on Thursday, Pompeo signalled an end to that era.

“The old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done. We must not continue it. We must not return to it,” Pompeo said. “Today, China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else … If the free world doesn’t change Communist China, Communist China will change us.”

Many observers are of the opinion that Pompeo has led Trump’s new offensive against China simply as part of the Republican strategy to win votes in the upcoming elections.

The Chengdu consulate was established in October 1985 by former President George Bush and had been a centre of several controversies in the past.

China has not given a deadline for the closure of the Chengdu mission.


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