China has taken control of the United States embassy in Chengdu, in retaliation to the US vacating the Chinese embassy in Houston last week.
This is the latest in a string of blows exchanged between the two biggest economies in the world, with tensions between China and the US higher than ever on a seemingly inevitable path to war.
On Monday, China took over the United States embassy in the southwest city of Chengdu, according to Reuters. They ordered for the premises to be vacated in retaliation to the US making the same order to vacate the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, last week. There were reportedly scenes of Chinese officials burning documents during the 72 hour period that they were given before the consulate official closed on Friday.
The U.S. consulate in Chengdu, in Sichuan province, was closed as of 10am on Monday, after the same 72-hour notice period was given to US officials. Chinese authorities had entered the building from the front door, according to a statement from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“We are disappointed by the Chinese Communist Party’s decision and will strive to continue our outreach to the people in this important region through our other posts in China,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.
As of Monday, Chinese officials removed the roadblock that was blocking off the former embassy, while also covering the plaque with the letters saying “US Consulate General” with a grey sheet-like material.
The U.S. embassy issued a video in Chinese on its Twitter feed: “The U.S. consulate in Chengdu has been proudly promoting the mutual understanding between Americans and the people in Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan and Tibet since 1985. We will forever miss you,” it said.
This is just the latest in a series of blows exchange between the US and China, ranging from America’s accusations that China knowingly unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the rest of the world, as well as ending special trade privileges for Hong Kong.