The Chinese government seized a US consulate in the country in retaliation over the State Department expelling workers from the Chinese consulate in Houston last week, Reuters reports.
China seized the US consulate in the city of Chengdu on Monday after ordering workers to vacate the premises.
“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 State Department spokesperson told Reuters.
The US embassy posted a video on Twitter in response to the expulsion.
“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,” the video said in Chinese. “We will forever miss you.”
US accuses China of spying:
The US took over the Houston consulate after accusing China of using the building to house Chinese spies that tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including hospitals.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Houston consulate a “hub of spying an [intellectual property] theft.”
Sen. Marco Rubio said the consulate was a "massive spy center [and] forcing it to close is long overdue."
China denies allegation:
The Chinese called the allegations “malicious slander.”
Cai Wen, the Chinese consul general, told a Houston TV outlet that the expulsion was “quite wrong” and “very damaging” to relations between the two countries.
"You have to give some evidence, say something from the facts,” he said. “Knowing Americans, you have the rule of law, you are not guilty until you are proved guilty."