National flags of China (R) and the United States. (Xinhua/Bao Dandan)
BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- At 10 a.m. on Monday, as required by China, the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu was closed. Relevant Chinese authorities then entered through the front entrance and took over the premises, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on its website.
On July 24, the ministry informed the U.S. Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the operation of the consulate, a "legitimate and necessary response" to an earlier U.S. unilateral provocation of demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston.
Spokesperson Wang Wenbin later on Monday dismissed media reports saying the U.S. closure of the consulate aimed to crack down on theft of commercial secrets, engagement in illegal activities and even espionage over a long period, and served to deter staff working at other Chinese consulates from similar activities, quoting interviews with high-ranking U.S. officials.
"The U.S. remarks are groundless accusations, and are purely slander and defamation," Wang told a daily press briefing when responding to a query about his comments on the relevant reports.
As the first consulate general set up by China after the establishment of diplomatic ties, China's Houston consulate has been committed to promoting mutual understanding among various communities and cooperation in various sectors between the two countries, which has won recognition from various communities in the south of the United States, Wang said.
Wang quoted local U.S. media saying that as China is the second-largest trading partner of the Houston region, the latter has benefited a lot from the consulate, which has served as a bridge linking the region to China in terms of tourism, trade and cultural exchanges.
American high school students participate in the Open Day event of the Chinese Consulate General in Houston, Texas, the United States, on June 26, 2019. (Xinhua/Gao Lu)
He also quoted relevant local U.S. officials who have expressed their shock at the U.S. decision to shut down China's consulate, as well as their hope to see a peaceful settlement of disputes and the consulate's resumption of operations.
For some time, a few anti-China U.S. politicians, driven by attempts to contain China and motives of seeking personal gains, have been fabricating smearing remarks against China repeatedly and scaling up provocative measures, the spokesperson said, citing unwarranted restrictions by the U.S. side on Chinese media's normal news reporting, oppression of Chinese enterprises under the abused concept of national security, as well as wanton interrogation, harassment and even detention of Chinese overseas students.
"The true purposes of these U.S. politicians are abundantly clear, which is to purposefully undermine China-U.S. relations and turn back the wheels of history," said Wang.
He pointed out the above-mentioned abominable acts have increasingly met with criticism from rational people with a sense of justice, citing a joint statement recently issued at a conference attended by experts and scholars from 48 countries. The statement reminded people of the threat to world peace posed by the U.S. government's increasingly ferocious remarks and acts against China, and expressed support for the two countries to build ties based on dialogue and commit themselves to global unity.
"The current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the U.S. side is responsible for all of this," said the spokesperson, once again urging the U.S. side to immediately retract its wrong decisions and create the necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track. ■