In what is being called an ‘unprecedented escalation’ of the Sino-US relationship by Beijing, Washington has asked Beijing to shut down the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Chinese officials have confirmed, journalist Aditya Raj Kaul reported on Twitter.
The Sino-US relationship has deteriorated vastly in recent times, with the Trump administration’s frequent jab at the Chinese Communist Party over myriad allegations, the pandemic being the most charged one.
China’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the US demand by calling it a ‘reckless and dangerous move’ according to a report on Global Times, China’s state-owned media.
The report further stated that the US order is a greave breach of a number of bilateral international laws including ‘violation of relevant provisions of the China-US consular treaty,’ and ‘a deliberate attempt to undermine China-US relations,’ as said by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Wednesday.
China, according to the foreign ministry spokesperson, has vowed ‘a legitimate and necessary response,’ if the US does not ‘immediately correct its mistakes,’ Global Times writes in a report.
Local Houston media reported on Tuesday night flames were noted by residents living near the Chinese Consulate in the state. Soon video footage was uploaded on social media with flame activities captured inside the Chinese consulate courtyard, where people were seen burning papers, apparently documents.
Houston police was reported about the incident and officials have responded. The below Tweet shows the fire department present on scene at the Consulate General of China on Houston’s 3417 Montrose Boulevard.
According to media reports, it is still not clear what those documents were, or if the officials of the consulate will be asked to leave America. The US side is yet to report, while speculations are ongoing.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said the US move to shut the consulate was ‘long overdue’ and “#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue,” he said, describing it as a “central node” of the Chinese Communist Party’s spy operations.”
Meanwhile, the US State Department spokesperson, in a statement to Fox News said the US decision was taken “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
The US “will not tolerate the PRC’s 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,” she said.
Houston’s Chinese Consulate was the first to open in the US, in 1979, according to South China Morning Post. The consulate was responsible for eight southern US states, namely Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and an unincorporated territory, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, according to SCMP.
(This is a developing story)