In a shocking revelation to American news outlet NBC News, the US government officials have said that the reason prompting the order for closing the Chinese consulate in Houston was years of intelligence concluding the location as a spying hotspot of China in the US.
According to the report, FBI intelligence has been probing the location for years and recently concluded the consulate was Beijing’s tool for keeping a close eye on the US intellectual properties, NBC News exclusively reports.
The Houston Chinese consulate was the first one to open in the US and President Trump had been informed about the matter as soon as he took the office.
Wednesday, the US State Department spokesperson, in a statement to Fox News, said the order was delivered “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee told the news outlet that the move to shut the consulate was backed by the FBI and its intelligence.
“But I can tell you for the last two years, I and other members of the intel committee have been holding classified briefings with business leaders and academic leaders about the concerted efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to steal our intellectual property, to steal it from companies, to steal it from universities, to be on better guard,” Warner was quoted as saying.
On Wednesday, the alleged consulate in Houston gathered attention after neighbors noticed the fire and smelt something was burning, which was identified to be papers/documents, which is not clear what it was.
According to reports, the US authorities were denied access to the property, and the consulate was protected by international law prohibiting access without consent, the Fire Department said.
The US has ordered all activities of the consulate must be stopped and vacated within 72 hours. The move was sharply criticized by China, and the Communist Party slammed the incident as a deliberate attempt to damage the Sino-US relationship.