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Police block people attempting to enter a road leading to the now-former U.S. Consulate, as the American flag has been lowered in Chengdu, China. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese officials announced they've lowered the American flag and taken over the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, per AFP.

The big picture: The closure marks a tit-for-tat move by Chinese authorities after the forced shuttering of China's consulate in Houston by U.S. officials. Chengdu is a secondary diplomatic outpost for the U.S. — much like Houston was for China.

Go deeper

FBI arrests 5 alleged agents of Chinese government

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The FBI charged eight people on Wednesday for acting as Chinese agents and said the defendants — five of whom were arrested — stalked and harassed U.S. citizens in an attempt to get them to return to China.

Why it matters: These are the first charges of their kind, FBI director Christopher Wray said at a Wednesday press briefing. The charges include conspiring to violate law on interstate stalking on behalf of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.