China Accuses Pompeo of 'New Crusade,' Tells U.S. to Shut Chengdu Consulate

China has accused the U.S. of launching a "new crusade" against Beijing as bilateral relations deteriorated further this week with the tit-for-tat closing of consulates in Houston and Chengdu.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of declaring the new crusade after his speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library on Thursday, during which Pompeo railed against what he called Beijing's "new tyranny" and urged the world to push back against Beijing.

"Pompeo's speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library suggests that he wants to present himself as the John Foster Dulles of the 21st century, launching a new crusade against China in a globalized world," Hua wrote on Twitter early Friday morning.

"What he is doing is as futile as an ant trying to shake a tree," she added. "It's about time that all peace-loving people around the world stepped forward to prevent him from doing the world more harm."

Beijing accused President Donald Trump's administration of an "unprecedented escalation" earlier this week after the White House ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, which authorities have long suspected of subversive behavior and espionage.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed the order Wednesday, arguing it was necessary "to protect American intellectual property and American's private information." All staff at the Houston facility will be evicted by the end of Friday.

China had threatened retaliation if the order was not reversed, and on Thursday night issued a statement confirming it had ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

The foreign ministry statement accused the U.S. of "unilateral provocation by abruptly demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston," a move it argued "seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-US Consular Convention."

The statement framed the Chengdu closure as "a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the US. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices."

U.S.-China relations—already frosty amid trade tensions, territorial disputes and human rights issues—went into nosedive earlier this year with the coronavirus pandemic. Trump's administration has pivoted to blaming Beijing for the pandemic and its effects, while China has dismissed U.S. criticism as a racist effort to distract from the government's own failures.

"The current situation in China-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see, and the U.S. is responsible for all this," China's foreign ministry said. "We once again urge the U.S. to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track."

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This file photo shows a Chinese paramilitary policeman at the entrance to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province on September 17, 2012. GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images/Getty