American flag is lowered at US consulate in Chengdu as diplomats are ordered to leave the country after Chinese mission in Houston was closed over accusations of spying

The American flag was lowered and the US's Chengdu mission was ordered to shut in retaliation for the forced closure of Beijing's consulate in Houston, Texas.
Chinese authorities took over the United States consulate in Chengdu on Monday, the foreign ministry said, days after Beijing ordered it to close in retaliation for the shuttering of its mission in Houston.
Earlier in the morning state broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the American flag being lowered, after diplomatic tensions soared between the two powers with both alleging the other had endangered national security.

Chinese state broadcaster CGTN said the flag was lowered on the building at about 6:18am local time on Monday
Chinese state broadcaster CGTN said the flag was lowered on the building at about 6:18am local time on Monday
Before Monday's deadline, staff were seen leaving the building, a plaque was removed, and a US flag was lowered
Before Monday's deadline, staff were seen leaving the building, a plaque was removed, and a US flag was lowered
The US' Chengdu mission was ordered to shut in retaliation for the forced closure of Beijing's consulate in Houston, Texas
The US' Chengdu mission was ordered to shut in retaliation for the forced closure of Beijing's consulate in Houston, Texas
Chinese security personnel walk outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday
Chinese security personnel walk outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday
A policeman stands guard in front of the US Consulate in Chengdu
A policeman stands guard in front of the US Consulate in Chengdu
A man shouts slogans in front of the former U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu
A man shouts slogans in front of the former U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu
Beijing later confirmed the consulate had closed at 10am local time.
'Afterwards, Chinese authorities entered through the front entrance and took it over,' the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Relations deteriorated in recent weeks in a Cold War-style standoff, with the Chengdu mission Friday ordered to shut in retaliation for the forced closure of Beijing's consulate in Houston, Texas. 
Residents take photos and video as Chinese authorities prepare to enter the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province
Residents take photos and video as Chinese authorities prepare to enter the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province
A car enters the US Consulate in Chengdu overnight ahead of its closure on Monday morning
A car enters the US Consulate in Chengdu overnight ahead of its closure on Monday morning
China's foreign ministry said Chinese staff entered the building after the deadline and 'took over'
China's foreign ministry said Chinese staff entered the building after the deadline and 'took over'
As the US consulate closed, crowds of local residents gathered outside, with many waving Chinese flags and taking selfies
As the US consulate closed, crowds of local residents gathered outside, with many waving Chinese flags and taking selfies
Both consulates closed 72 hours after the original order was made.
The road leading to the Chengdu mission was closed on Monday, with police and cordons blocking the way.
State media reported that staff members had left the compound at around 6 am Monday morning.
Over the weekend, removal trucks entered the site and cleaners were seen carting large black rubbish bags from the consulate, and on Saturday AFP reporters saw workers removing the US insignia from the front of the building.
Police stand guard on a road leading to the US consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China's Sichuan province
A constant stream of onlookers in the city of 16.5 million flowed past the building over the weekend, many taking photos.
Chinese paramilitary policemen march near the United States Consulate in Chengdu
Chinese paramilitary policemen march near the United States Consulate in Chengdu
Residents and journalists gather. The U.S. closed its consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Monday, a victim of the rising tensions between the global powers
Residents and journalists gather. The U.S. closed its consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Monday, a victim of the rising tensions between the global powers
Police stand guard on a road leading to the US consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China's Sichuan province
Police stand guard on a road leading to the US consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China's Sichuan province
The US consulate in the city covered China's southwest, including Tibet. Many Tibetans accuse the central government of religious repression and eroding their culture.
Beijing says closing the consulate was a 'legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures by the United States', and has alleged that staff at the diplomatic mission endangered China's security and interests.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters that some US staff in the Chengdu consulate 'were engaged in activities outside of their capacity, interfered in China's internal affairs, and endangered China's security and interests'.
Washington officials, meanwhile, said there had been unacceptable efforts by the Chinese consulate in Houston to steal US corporate secrets and proprietary medical and scientific research. 
Chinese policemen prepare for duty around a neighborhood sealed off before the official closure of the United States Consulate in Chengdu
Chinese policemen prepare for duty around a neighborhood sealed off before the official closure of the United States Consulate in Chengdu
Some Chengdu residents lined up to take photos
Some Chengdu residents lined up to take photos
People gather as Chinese authorities prepare to enter the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday, July 27, 2020. The U.S. closed its consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Monday, a victim of the rising tensions between the global powers. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
People gather as Chinese authorities prepare to enter the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday, July 27, 2020. The U.S. closed its consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Monday, a victim of the rising tensions between the global powers. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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'.
Its statement warned that 'China will make a proper and necessary response in this regard'.
Nationalistic tabloid the Global Times warned in an editorial Monday that if Washington was 'determined to push China-US ties in the worst direction... the 21st century will be darker and even more explosive than the Cold War era'.
It said the rising tensions could lead to 'unprecedented catastrophe'.
Workers in protective outfit walk outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu
Workers in protective outfit walk outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu
Residents gather as Chinese authorities prepare to enter the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province
Residents gather as Chinese authorities prepare to enter the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province
American flag is lowered at US consulate in Chengdu as diplomats are ordered to leave the country after Chinese mission in Houston was closed over accusations of spying American flag is lowered at US consulate in Chengdu as diplomats are ordered to leave the country after Chinese mission in Houston was closed over accusations of spying Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 03:36 Rating: 5

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