China's Foreign Ministry said Monday the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu was closed as of 10 a.m. local time.
Earlier Monday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said on its social media account that the American flag in the consulate premise was lowered at 6:18 a.m. A statement from the U.S. State Department confirmed that the consulate had eased operations, reported the Associated Press.
China revoked the license of the consulate on Friday in retaliation for a U.S. order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston days earlier. The U.S. had said that the directive to close the Chinese consulate was made to protect American intellectual property and the private information of its citizens — a decision that China condemned.
The U.S. consulate in Chengdu was established in 1985 and covered the autonomous region of Tibet, the municipality of Chongqing, and Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces. In its statement, the U.S. State Department said the consulate "has stood at the center of our relations with the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years," the AP reported.
With the closure of the Chengdu premise, the U.S. now has five remaining consulates in Greater China, in addition to its embassy in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
The tit-for-tat consulate closures come as relations between the world's top two economies head toward their worst in decades. In recent months, the two countries clashed over a range of issues including technology, the origin of the deadly coronavirus and the autonomy of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
In an editorial published Sunday, Chinese state-backed media Global Times sought to paint the U.S. as the provocateur that caused relations between the two countries to worsen.
"Looking back at the past two years, almost all the turbulence in China-US ties was stirred up by provocations from the US side, which were then followed by counteractions from the Chinese side," read the editorial.
"China is a defender. But if Washington is so determined to push China-US ties in the worst direction, China will not be able to change the trend on its own," it added.
— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report