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The national flag of the United States (US) was lowered at the US Consulate General in Chengdu early on Monday morning, state media reported.

Footage on state broadcaster CCTV from outside the consulate showed the flag being slowly lowered early Monday morning, after diplomatic tensions soared between the two powers with both alleging the other had endangered national security.

China had on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in Chengdu, a southwestern Chinese province. The move was a response to the Donald Trump administration’s order this week for Beijing to close its consulate in Houston.

The United States ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, escalating tensions between the world’s largest economies as President Donald Trump ramps up punitive measures against China ahead of the November US election.

Beijing denounced the order Wednesday as “outrageous” and said it would draw a firm response if not reversed.

The physical closure of the consulate, one of China’s six missions in the United States, marked a dramatic step in increasingly contentious relations that have been strained not only by the coronavirus pandemic but disputes over trade, human rights, Hong Kong and Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Tensions

Tensions have soared between the world’s two biggest economic powers on a range of fronts including trade, China’s handling of the novel coronavirus and a tough new security law for Hong Kong, with US officials warning of a “new tyranny” from China.

The last Chinese diplomats left the Houston consulate last Friday, with officials there seen loading large sacks of documents and other items onto trucks, and throwing some in bins.

Beijing said Saturday that US agents “forcibly” entered the Houston consulate, which it said was “China’s national property”.

The statement warned that “China will make a proper and necessary response in this regard”.

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