There was a tight security presence outside the U.S. consulate in the city of Chengdu, China Sunday, as the American staff prepared to leave the premises.
Three moving trucks were seen entering the building compound, while uniformed and plainclothes police lined both sides of the street, which were lined with metal barriers.
The editor of China's Global Times tabloid tweeted that the U.S. consulate in Chengdu was given 72 hours to close, or until 10 a.m. (0200GMT) Monday, July 27.
China charged that some personnel at the Chengdu consulate were "conducting activities not in line with their identities."
Without giving any details, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Wang Wenbin said such activity had interfered in China's affairs and harmed its security interests.
China’s order to close the consulate in Chengdu was issued Friday in retaliation for a U.S. order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas.
Washington ordered China to close the Houston office "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information."
As Chinse consulate closure in Houston took effect on Friday, a group of men who appeared to be U.S. officials were seen breaking-in to the facility through a back door.
Wang said on Saturday that violated international and bilateral agreements and China would respond, without specifying of how.
The tit-for-tat closures further escalated the tensions between the two countries over issues from trade and industrial espionage to human rights.