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China orders closure of US consulate in Chengdu | News

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China has ordered the United States to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, retaliating against Washington’s move earlier this week to shut down the Chinese consulate in the Texas city of Houston.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday that the Chengdu mission’s closure was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures by the United States”. 

“The current situation in China-US relations is not what China desires to see,” it said in a statement, adding that “the US is responsible for all this”. 

“We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.”

The tit-for-tat moves come amid a dramatic escalation in tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. On Tuesday, Washington gave Beijing 72 hours to close its mission in Houston alleging the theft of intellectual property and espionage – a claim the Chinese side called “malicious slander”. 

Ties have also deteriorated over a number of issues, ranging from the new coronavirus pandemic to Beijing’s trade and business practices, and from its territorial claims in the South China Sea to its clampdown in Hong Kong and the far western region of Xinjiang. 




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Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, described Beijing’s Friday order as “a blow” to bilateral relations.

“There are about 200 staff working at the Chengdu consulate, including about 50 US officials,” she said. “The consulate is also considered quite an important listening post for the US, when it comes to issues such as Tibet and Xinjiang. And once its done, it will be extremely difficult to reverse.”

‘Frankenstein’

Meanwhile, in a major speech on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took fresh aim at Beijing, saying Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways.

Speaking at the Nixon Library in President Richard Nixon’s birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, Pompeo said that the former US leader’s worry about what he had done by opening the world to China’s Communist Party in the 1970s had been prophetic.

“President Nixon once said he feared he had created a ‘Frankenstein’ by opening the world to the CCP,” Pompeo said. “And here we are.”

“The truth is that our policies – and those of other free nations – resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it,” he continued.




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“The freedom-loving nations of the world must induce China to change … in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.”

Pompeo said “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time” and said the US was perfectly positioned to lead it.

The speech drew sharp criticism from Beijing, with Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, saying Pompeo’s remarks suggested he wants to “launch a new crusade against China in a globalized world”. 

“What he is doing is as futile as an ant trying to shake a tree,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s about time that all peace-loving people in the world stepped forward to prevent him from doing the world more harm.” 

Also on Thursday, the US Justice Department said it believes the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a Chinese researcher, Tang Juan, who is accused of lying about her background in the Communist Party’s military wing on a visa application.

The department announced criminal charges of visa fraud against Tang and three other Chinese researchers. The Justice Department said Tang lied on a visa application last October as she made plans to work at the University of California, Davis, and again during an FBI interview months later.



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Trapped China miners ask for rice porridge, sausages | China News

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Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday as they race against time to extract the 22 workers.

Workers trapped in a Chinese gold mine for more than nine days have received more medical and food supplies, including bandages, blankets and rice porridge, but one of the group is in a critical condition with a severe head injury, state media said.

A total of 22 workers were left trapped in the Hushan mine, in Shandong province, after an explosion on January 10.

A week later, it emerged that at least 12 of them were still alive as a note retrieved from the mine said: “We hope the rescue won’t stop.”

A drilled channel on Sunday located 11 of the miners, who were working more than 600 metres (1,968 feet) underground and rescuers were subsequently able to speak to them via a wired telephone.

But the progress of the rescue has been slow, according to Chen Fei, a top city official.

Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday in an effort to extract the trapped miners [Stringer/AFP]

“The surrounding rock near the ore body is mostly granite … that is very hard, resulting in the slow progress of the rescue,” Chen told reporters.

“There is a lot of water in the shaft that may pose a danger to the trapped workers.”

Chen said the current food supply was only enough for two days.

‘Please speed up the rescue’

Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday, according to a rescue map published on the Yantai government’s official Weibo account, a Chinese version of Twitter.

More than 300 people are involved in the rescue effort and excavators and machinery are on site but the teams have warned it will be extremely difficult to bring out the miners from the tunnel’s entrance.

The official Xinhua news agency said the miners had requested on Monday evening sausage and pickles as well as porridge but medical experts decided they should not eat hard food having only just regained their strength.

Fortified by the food and medical supplies – the fourth consignment to reach the group – two workers who had previously been very weak were able to walk again on Tuesday, Xinhua reported, citing a member of the rescue team.

However, the state-run newspaper People’s Daily said one worker was in a coma and in a critical condition, after sustaining a head injury in the blast, while two were “mildly unwell” and eight in good health.

One more worker has been located in another section of the mine, while the whereabouts of the other 10 remain unknown.

News that some of the miners are still alive has boosted Chinese netizens’ hopes for a miraculous escape, with thousands leaving prayer messages on Weibo and calling on the authorities to “please speed up the rescue”.

China’s National Mine Safety Administration has ordered a comprehensive inspection of the country’s non-coal mines, which will continue until the end of March, the People’s Daily reported.

There are 32,000 non-coal mines in China, most of which are small, use outdated technology and equipment and have poor safety management, it said, citing an administration official.



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