China – American diplomatic staff have left their consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu, after a 72-hour deadline expired.
China ordered the closure in response to the US closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, last week.
Before the Monday deadline, staff were seen leaving the building, a plaque was removed, and a US flag was lowered.
China’s foreign ministry said the Chinese staff entered the building and “took over”.
“The consulate has stood at the centre of our relations with the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years.
“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,” said a US state department spokesperson.
Last Wednesday the US ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close, alleging that it had become a hub for spying and property theft.
There have been tensions between the two countries over trading issues. US officials have also blamed China for the global spread of Covid-19. In return, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in March that the US military might have brought the virus to Wuhan.
The US and China have also been locked in tariff was since 2018.