The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the US asked it to close down its consulate in Houston, Texas. Beijing condemned the move, promising retaliation if the decision is not reversed.
The abrupt demand to shut down the consulate is an “unprecedented escalation” of hostilities, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters. He warned that Beijing will retaliate if the US does not reverse its decision.
Wang Wenbin slammed the order to close the consulate as a “political provocation” and “a serious violation of international law.”
China urges the US to immediately revoke this wrong decision. Otherwise, China will make proper and necessary response.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper, tweeted that Beijing was given 72 hours to vacate the consulate building. “This is a crazy move,” he wrote.
The US asked China to close Consulate General in Houston in 72 hours. This is a crazy move.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) July 22, 2020
The Chinese spokesperson rejected the recent claim by the US Justice Department that Chinese hackers have tried to steal data on Covid-19 vaccine development. The US must “immediately stop its slander and smearing of China on cyber security issues,” he told the journalists.
US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the move against the consulate was made to ensure the protection of American intellectual property and persona data of US citizens.
US-China relations have been deteriorating rapidly in recent weeks. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump signed a bill authorizing sanctions on China over its policies in Hong Kong. The US Treasury also sanctioned several high-ranking Chinese officials over Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
Beijing responded in kind by sanctioning several prominent American politicians, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. China has stated that the sanctions are illegal and constitute meddling in its domestic affairs.