- A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Chinese diplomats were given 72 hours to leave the United States.
- Spokesman Wang Wenbin has called on the United States to reconsider its policy.
- The State Department said said the consulate was directed to close "in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information."
The United States requested Wednesday that the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas be closed. This was in response to reports of officials inside the compound burning documents early Wednesday morning. China blasted the move as an “unprecedented escalation.”
As a result of trade wars and disputes over the coronavirus, as well as Hong Kong, diplomatic tensions are now rising between the two countries. They have arguably never been so tense since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
News sources published a report in Beijing on Wednesday announcing the US request to close the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Houston. The news was reported by Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing on Wednesday that the United States had not only demanded the closure of the consulate in Houston, but also given Chinese diplomats 72 hours to leave the United States.
Unprecedented Diplomatic Tension
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1979, no such level of tension has been observed in the relations between the two countries. Tensions erupted after Donald Trump took office with a trade war and tariffs on goods imported from China.
President Trump later accused China of spying with Huawei, banning them from participating in the creation of a fifth-generation Internet network, and communicating in recent months. With the spread of the Coronavirus and the Hong Kong issue, it became more widespread.
Spokesman Wang Wenbin has called on the United States to reconsider its policy. The ambassador called the US’ move a big mistake, and warned of the consequences.
“China will inevitably have a necessary and legitimate response if the United States does not correct this wrong decision,” he said. He called the sudden and unannounced closure of a consulate an unprecedented step in the practice of international diplomacy.
Wang also said the United States had imposed restrictions on some Chinese diplomats in October last year and June this year. He also accused US diplomats in China of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and trying to influence the Chinese people and society.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the order to close the consulate was a “political provocation unilaterally launched by the US side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the US.”
“China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-US relations,” it said. “We urge the US to immediately withdraw its erroneous decision, otherwise China will make legitimate and necessary reactions.”
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the consulate was directed to close “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information” Ortagus did not elaborate, but added:
“The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s [People Republic of China] violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in US-China relations.”