China promised to retaliate after it said Wednesday it was unexpectedly ordered by the United States to close its consulate in Houston, a move that represents the most recent indication of deteriorating relations between the two superpowers.
Wang Wenbin, a representative for China’s foreign ministry, told regular daily news instructions that China was informed on Tuesday that it should close the consulate within 72 hours. He portrayed the activity as an “unprecedented escalation” and said China would “react with firm countermeasures” if the U.S. doesn’t revoke the decision.
The U.S. State Department said in an explanation that the conclusion was to ensure American intellectual property and private data. The activity quickly follows a U.S. Branch of Justice indictment of two Chinese hackers blamed for taking competitive advantages from several global targets and, all the more recently, probing for vulnerabilities in U.S. organizations engaged with the improvement of COVID-19 treatments and immunizations.
Wang said the consulate was working normally, following local media reports in Houston on Tuesday night that documents were being burned in a patio at the consulate. Texas fire and police officers reacted to the reports of a fire. It was not satisfactory if they were allowed to enter the property in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood.
“You could just smell the paper burning,” a witness at the scene told KPRC 2, an NBC-affiliate television station.
China’s consulate in Houston couldn’t promptly be gone after comment.
U.S.- China relations have been battered by a rift over the coronavirus pandemic, stressed trade relations, and Beijing’s transition to assert greater authority over Hong Kong. In recent weeks, the two countries have slapped sanctions on one another’s authorities.
Notwithstanding its embassy in Washington, D.C., and consulate in Houston, China has consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.
“The U.S. has far more diplomatic missions and staff working in China. So if the U.S. is bent on going down this wrong path, we will resolutely respond,” Wang said.
The U.S. has consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Wuhan.
The U.S. Government office is situated in Beijing.