October 27, 2020

US orders China to close Houston consulate

Fire trucks are seen outside the Chinese consulate, where local media reported trash cans filled with documents are being burned in the courtyard, in Houston, Texas, U.S. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The fire service were called to the consulate after people were filmed burning papers in the courtyard

The US has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, by Friday – a move described as “political provocation” by Beijing.

The US State Department said the decision was taken “in order to protect American intellectual property”.

But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said it was “outrageous and unjustified”.

The statement came after unidentified individuals were filmed burning paper in bins in the building’s courtyard.

Tensions have been rising between the US and China for some time. President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China’s imposition of a controversial new security law on Hong Kong.

Then on Tuesday, the US justice department accused China of sponsoring hackers targeting labs developing Covid-19 vaccines, charging two Chinese nationals who allegedly spied on US companies doing research and got help from state agents for other thefts.

China has urged the US to reconsider, saying if it insists “on going down this wrong path, China will react with firm countermeasures”.