According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the United States government has unexpectedly instructed China to “cease all operations and events” at its consulate in Houston, Texas, in what it has termed a “unprecedented escaortaguslation” of Washington’s recent actions.
Police in Houston confirmed they replied to rumors of smoke outside the consulate in the courtyard, situated on Montrose Boulevard, in the Midtown section of the town. Local media broadcast a photo of what looked to be officials inside the burning documents compound.
In a statement posted on its official social media, 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.”
The statement goes on to say the US has been “shifting the blame to China with stigmatization and unwarranted attacks against China’s social system, harassing Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in the US, intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them without cause.”
On Facebook, Hu Xijin, editor of the state-sponsored Global Times newspaper with tight links to the Chinese Communist Party, said Beijing was granted 72 hours to shutter the consulate. “This is a crazy move,” he added.
Which precisely may have inspired a Washington directive like this remains unknown. In the past year, ties between the two countries have deteriorated in the face of an raging trade conflict, the coronavirus pandemic, and US criticism of China’s civil rights abusses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Actually, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Europe, where he has urged politicians on the continent to pursue a harder stance with China and consult with imprisoned dissidents.
Spokeswoman for the US Department of State Morgan Ortagus confirmed that the consulate was to close “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
The Vienna Convention states diplomats must “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State,” she said.”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.”
The Houston consulate serves eight southern US states, including Texas and Florida, as well as Puerto Rico, according to a message on their website. It was the “was the first (consulate) to be established” in 1979 after the establishment of diplomatic ties between the US and China, while a liaison office was still functioning in Washington D.C. Back then.