BEIJING, July 23 — Beijing is considering closure of the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu as a retaliation to the eviction of the Chinese mission in Houston, reported Sputnik news agency, quoting the South China Morning Post newspaper report on Thursday citing a source familiar with the situation.
On Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter, that Beijing was mulling the possibility of closing the US consulate in the city of Wuhan in response to Washington’s actions. However, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese official Global Times newspaper, said that closing the Wuhan consulate would not be strong enough since the US had already evacuated its staff from there after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from the facilities in Wuhan and Chengdu, the United States also has consulates in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang, as well as a consulate general for Hong Kong and Macau. According to the South China Morning Post, the mission in Chengdu, however, is strategically important and its closure would further harm the already-strained relations between Washington and Beijing. The mission covers the country’s southwestern region, including the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Tibet autonomous region, and Chongqing.
The US government has ordered China to leave the diplomatic premises in Houston by the end of the week over intellectual theft concerns. In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, called on Washington to immediately abolish the decision, adding that if the decision is not canceled, Beijing will certainly retaliate.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said during a press briefing at the White House that he did not rule out closing additional Chinese diplomatic missions in the United States.