Beijing announced the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu was closed as of 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday, after it ordered the facility be shut in retaliation for China being ousted from its consulate in Houston, Texas, APA reports citing Reuters.
Police in Chengdu restricted access to the area around the consulate on Monday morning, and four officials in personal protective gear could be seen walking towards the consulate at about 10:24 a.m. local time.
China ordered the closure of the facility on Friday after Washington last week gave China 72 hours to vacate its consulate in Houston, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
State broadcaster CCTV shared a video on its Twitter-like Weibo account, taken by a reporter, of the American flag in front of the consulate in Chengdu being lowered at 6:18 a.m. on Monday.
On Sunday night, a crane was seen entering the consulate compound and hoisting at least one container onto a large truck.
On Saturday evening, a worker was seen using tools including a hammer and chisel to remove fittings around a plaque outside the main entrance.
U.S.-China relations have plunged to their worst in decades over a range of disputes, from trade and technology to the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.