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US consulate in Chengdu closed in escalation of tensions with China

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Chinese security personnel walk outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday, July 27, 2020
Chinese security personnel walk outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday, July 27, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
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The US consulate in Chengdu, China has been closed as tensions between the two countries rise.

China ordered the shutdown of the consulate after the US closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas.

The move marked an escalation in the countries' mounting array of conflicts including trade, the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, technology, spying accusations, Hong Kong and allegations of abuses against Chinese Muslims.

Diplomatic staff in Chengdu left the consulate and the US flag was lowered.

China's foreign ministry said that "competent authorities" had taken over the consulate.

“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 US State Department statement said, according to AP.

Chinese officials left the consulate in Houston on Friday after the Trump administration ordered in to close.

It shut after the US alleged that Chinese spies were using it to steal data from medical facilities in Texas.

The Chinese foreign ministry said the decision to close the Houston consulate "seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the Consular Convention between China and the United States."

China now has four consulates in the United States, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, in addition to its embassy in Washington.

The United States has an embassy in Beijing and four consulates in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan and Shenyang.