China vows revenge after U.S. orders consulate in Houston to close

Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Houston

US Orders China to Shut Down its Houston Texas Consulate in 72 Hours CC0

During a visit to Denmark on Wednesday, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, suggested the move reflected a U.S. decision to be less tolerant of Chinese behaviour.

It was the latest in a series of measure taken by the Trump administration against Chinese officials, students and researchers that have included travel bans, registration requirements and others steps meant to reduce their footprint in the United States. It also has a consulate-general for Hong Kong and Macao based in Hong Kong.

President Donald Trump's administration on July 14 abruptly abandoned a plan that would have forced out tens of thousands of foreign students, following widespread condemnation of the decision and pressure from universities and businesses.

China strongly condemned the action.

There were indications consulate staff were preparing to leave: Papers were being burned on the consulate grounds late Tuesday night - a common practice when a diplomatic post is being shuttered on short notice.

Earlier this week, the USA government imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese companies - in addition to four Chinese officials already under sanctions - for involvement in human rights abuses against the Muslim-minority Uighurs in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

"I know, Americans call that the rule of law and you have that you are not guilty until you are proven guilty".

The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday the Chinese mission in Houston was being closed "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information".

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the USA will not tolerate the PRC's violations of its sovereignty and intimidation of its people, just as it has not tolerated the PRC's unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behaviour.

Those factors led to Trump's action, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The U.S. dollar hit four-month lows against a basket of peer currencies on Thursday and China's yuan partially recovered losses from an earlier slide, as investors took a wait-and-see approach to tensions between the two countries.

The United States, on Wednesday, ordered China to shut down its consulate in Texas's Houston, with an outraged Beijing denouncing the order and threatening a firm response.

"I think we're in a unsafe and precipitous spiral downward, not without cause, but without the proper diplomatic skills to arrest it", said Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society.

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When asked for comments about reports that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Britain's recent move on China, saying that the two countries should build a coalition against Beijing, Wang said Pompeo had recently spared no effort to attack and slander China, wantonly carrying out ideological attacks on China and playing up the threat of China.

Wang accused the USA of opening Chinese diplomatic pouches without permission multiple times, confiscating Chinese items for official use and imposing restrictions on Chinese diplomats beginning last October and again in June.

'While Chinese diplomats are promoting mutual understanding and friendship, the USA embassy in China publicly attacks China's political system, ' she said.

Local police said it was caused by people burning classified documents in the consulate's courtyard, according to local TV station FOX26. U.S. officials said staff, who were given 72 hours to leave the country, were burning documents in its grounds. It is a grave violation of the worldwide law.

"As far as closing additional embassies, it is always possible", he said.

A Chinese researcher who lied about her affiliation with a military university entered Beijing's consulate in San Francisco after being interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on about alleged visa fraud and has remained there, a media report said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington had received "bomb and death threats" because of "smears & hatred" fanned by the US government, spokeswoman Hua Chunying wrote in a tweet.

On Wednesday, China confirmed the USA abruptly requested on Tuesday that China close the consulate in Houston within 72 hours, sending bilateral relations to one of the lowest levels since diplomatic ties were normalized in 1979.

The other United States consulates in China are in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang.

Hu Xijin, editor the Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, wrote that shutting the Wuhan consulate would be insufficiently disruptive. It says the consulate, first opened in 1979, has been important in building trade, investment and cultural ties between the two countries.

After China became a party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in 1979, China and the U.S. reached an agreement on the mutual establishment of consular relations and the opening of consulates-general.

Beijing reportedly called the eviction a violation of intercontinental legislation.

Much of the interest in Houston has focused on the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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