China ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu, responding to a US demand for China to close its Houston consulate, as relations between the world's two largest economies deteriorate.The order to close the consulate in Chengdu, in southwestern China's Sichuan province, continued Beijing's recent practice of like-for-like responses to US actions. China had warned it would retaliate after it was this week given 72 hours - until Friday - to vacate its consulate in the Texas city, and had urged the United States to reconsider.Relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorated sharply this year over issues ranging from trade and technology to the novel coronavirus, China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong."The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China informed the US Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the US Consulate General in Chengdu," China's foreign ministry said in a statement.Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said some Chengdu consulate personnel were "conducting activities not in line with their identities" and had interfered in China's affairs and harmed China's security interests, but he did not say how.Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi, who is also foreign minister, blamed Washington for the deterioration in ties."The current difficult situation in Sino-US relations is entirely caused by the United States, and its goal is trying to interrupt China's development," Wang said in a video conversation with his German counterpart.US President Donald Trump's administration said the closing of the consulate was aimed at protecting American intellectual property and personal information."We urge the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) to cease these malign actions rather than engage in tit-for-tat retaliation," John Ullyot, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement.The consulate in Chengdu was given 72 hours to close, or until 10 a.m. on Monday, the editor of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter.The consulate opened in 1985 and has almost 200 employees, including about 150 locally hired staff, according to its website. It was not immediately clear how many are there now after US diplomats were evacuated from China during the novel coronavirus outbreak.Global share markets fell after the announcement, led by a heavy drop in Chinese blue chips, which fell 4.4%, while the yuan hit a two-week low.The U.S. State Department warned Americans in China of a greater risk of arbitrary law enforcement including detention, repeating a similar warning two weeks ago.TROUBLED TIESSecretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech on Thursday Washington and its allies must use "more creative and assertive ways" to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways.A source had told Reuters China was considering shutting the US consulate in Wuhan, where Washington withdrew staff as the coronavirus outbreak raged."The Chengdu consulate is more important than the Wuhan consulate because that is where the US gathers information about Tibet and China's development of strategic weapons in neighboring regions," said Wu Xinbo, a professor and American studies expert at Fudan University in Shanghai.He said the Chengdu consulate was less important for economic activity than US consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.Chinese social media users, who had denounced the order to close the Houston mission, lauded the response.The comment, "let's renovate it into a hotpot restaurant!," a reference to a popular dish in Chengdu, got 100,000 likes on the Weibo account of state broadcaster CCTV.