Access restricted near U.S. consulate in Chengdu as closure deadline looms


CHENGDU, China, July 27 (Reuters) - Police in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu restricted access to the area around the U.S. consulate on Monday morning, as a 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) deadline loomed for the United States to vacate the premises after being given 72 hours to leave.

China on Friday ordered the closure of the consulate after Washington had ordered the shutdown of China's consulate in Houston, in a dramatic escalation of a worsening in relations between the world's two largest economies.

State broadcaster CCTV shared a video on its twitter-like Weibo account, taken by a reporter, of the American flag in front of the consulate in Chengdu being lowered at 6:18 a.m. Monday morning.

On Sunday night, a crane could be seen entering the consulate compound and hoisting at least one container onto a large truck.

On Saturday evening, a worker could be seen using tools including a hammer and chisel to remove fittings around a plaque outside the main entrance.

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; editing by Richard Pullin)

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