Employees of the us consulate in Chengdu, in China, buzzed about Saturday to pack his bags, removing the badge’s national building, in the immediate aftermath of a closure order of Beijing in retaliation for the closure of its diplomatic mission in Houston.
The officials of the representation in the u.s. to Chengdu, a metropolis of 16 million inhabitants of the south-west of China, were working Saturday to move out. The AFP reporters were able to see in the morning the movers come out of the suitcases.
The decision to close the u.s. consulate is “a legitimate response and necessary measures unreasonable of the United States,” said the chinese ministry of foreign Affairs.
In Houston, the chinese staff has already ceded the place to the police, on a background of accusations of espionage worthy of the cold War.
“Some employees of the U.s. consulate in Chengdu were engaged in activities out of their assignments, they interfered in the internal affairs of China, and have put in danger the security and interests of china”, has accused the spokesperson of china’s public diplomacy, Wang Wenbin.
The White House has called on Beijing to “cease” its own “acts harmful rather than embarking on reprisals.” But Washington has kept it to this stage, wield publicly the threat of counter-retaliation.
The “Message” in Beijing
The us secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said on Thursday that the consulate of China in Houston, was a “hub of espionage and theft of intellectual property”.
Washington has given Tuesday until Friday in Beijing to close its mission in the city of Texas, a great global hub of biological research and medical.
Friday, all day long, employees have filled out the moving trucks and throwing trash bags in a dumpster nearby, under the gaze of police and protesters have booed the cars leaving the consulate.
In the afternoon, the us officials are finally entered in the building after you have opened the door to the use of tools, has found an AFP journalist.
At the end of the evening, a spokesman for the department of State has confirmed that the consulate was “closed”.
Washington explained that the closure was not an answer to a specific folder.
“At one point, we just need to say enough,” said a senior official of the u.s. department of State.
An official with the ministry of Justice has said in referring to a “message” to other diplomats the chinese to “stop” the activities of economic espionage.
The voltage sino-american, already fuelled by the trade war and mutual accusations about the origin of the COVID-19, is up a notch in recent weeks with the imposition by Beijing of a law on national security to Hong Kong.
The two countries take further sanctions the mutual to the topic of Xinjiang, the United States is accusing Beijing of violating the rights of muslim uighurs in this region of the north-west of China.
The “graduated response”
Thus increasing the pressure, Mike Pompeo, on Thursday called on “the free world” to “triumph” of the “new tyranny” embodied, according to him, by the communist China.
“The current situation of sino-us relations does not correspond to the wishes of China and the United States are fully responsible”, replied the chinese diplomatic.
But the reaction in china seems relatively measured: on social networks, the nationalist chinese had termed the communist regime to close the U.s. consulate in Hong Kong, which would have certainly contributed to the escalation.
“It would seem that China has chosen a graduated response rather than a reaction (…) which would call a riposte by the us,” notes the china expert Victor Shih, of the University of California at San Diego.
Sign of the distrust ambient, the u.s. government announced Friday the arrest of a researcher in china who had taken refuge at the consulate of China in San Francisco after having been accused of having hidden his links with the army to obtain his visa.
The u.s. department of Justice has also made it known that a citizen of singapore had pled guilty on Friday, accused of having spied on the United States for the account of China in another case.
The tensions between the two superpowers has taken a nosedive in the stock market chinese: Hong Kong ended down 2.19%, Shanghai 3.9% and Shenzhen by 5%.
The mission of the city of Chengdu covers in particular the autonomous region of Tibet. According to its website, it has 200 employees, including 150 local status.
In 2013, China had asked for explanations from the United States after the publication in the press of a card, leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, showing the sites of the american spy in the world. The consulate in Chengdu was.