‘Americans were interfering in China’s domestic affairs’: Beijing justifies closing US Chengdu consulate

‘Americans were interfering in China’s domestic affairs’: Beijing justifies closing US Chengdu consulate

  • Order is seen by observers as strategic move by China to retaliate without escalating tension following order to shut Houston consulate
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesman says Pompeo speech ‘fraught with Cold War mentality’

China has accused American personnel at the US consulate in Chengdu of interfering in the country’s domestic affairs after it ordered the diplomatic outpost to close.Beijing’s move followed a similar order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston over accusations of espionage.The order to close the US consulate in Chengdu was made on Friday, as reported by theSouth China Morning Post a day earlier.

“Some of the personnel at the US consulate in Chengdu engaged in activities inconsistent with their capacity. They interfered with China’s domestic affairs and harmed China’s national security interests. The Chinese side has lodged multiple representations. The US know what they have done,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday.

Wang did not provide details of the alleged interference, but his remarks were seen as a tit-for-tat response to US allegations that the Chinese consulate in Houston was the “epicentre” of efforts by the Chinese military to send students to the US to obtain information.

Closing down a foreign diplomatic mission is seen as an escalation of tension between nations. One previous example was in 1962, when the Indian consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, was shut down after a war between China and India.

But observers said closing down the Chengdu outpost was a carefully calculated decision to ensure there was retaliation against the US, but to avoid the tensions getting out of control by not targeting US missions in other key cities, such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong.