The U.S., like other nations, has embassies and consulates in those countries with which it has formal diplomatic relations.
The embassy is located in or near the host nation’s capital and is usually headed by an ambassador. Embassies assist American citizens abroad, provide visas to visit the United States, and promote business and cultural ties.
In larger countries, consulates serve as extensions of the embassy for regions outside the capital. They provide the same services as the embassy and take their direction from the ambassador.
Both embassies and consulates are the sovereign territory of the nation they represent.
On July 24, the Chinese government ordered the closing of the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China.
“We are disappointed by the Chinese Communist Party’s decision,” the State Department said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We will strive to continue our outreach to the people in this important region through our other posts in China.”
The Chengdu consulate
The consulate in Chengdu was one of five U.S. consulates in the People’s Republic of China. It provided services to southwestern China, covering Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet.
Established in 1985, the consulate in Chengdu “built relationships across all aspects of Chinese society that helped us to better understand each other,” its head, Jim Mullinax, said.
The consulate provided services to over 200 million people. It processed up to 150,000 visa applications each year for Chinese people looking to visit or study in the United States. It hosted cultural and sporting events, including a forum to explore shared U.S.-Chinese history, and it brought over U.S. national soccer team members to teach soccer and support women’s empowerment.
The consulate in Chengdu engaged with the Tibetan community to preserve Tibet’s distinct culture, language and religion.
On July 21, the United States ordered the closing of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, which Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo described as “a hub of spying and intellectual property theft.”
According to The Global Times, an outlet of the Chinese Communist Party, the CCP closed the Chengdu consulate in retaliation for the U.S. action.
“It has been my honor to focus on building relationships and providing services to” the people of southwestern China, Mullinax said. “We will miss the people of southwest China and the friendships that we have made.”