(FreedomJournal.org)- The United States has ordered the closure of the Chinese Consulate that is located in Houston, Texas.
The U.S. said the consulate must close within 72 hours because of “massive illegal spying and influence operations” that were being conducted by the Chinese.
Residents who live near the building called the Houston fire department after they saw workers at the consulate burning documents in the compound’s courtyard. Firefighters weren’t able to step in, though, because the consulate is under China’s jurisdiction.
In a statement, Morgan Ortagus, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said:
“The People’s Republic of China has engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations throughout the United States against U.S. government officials and American citizens. [Those] activities have increased markedly in scale and scope over the past few years.
“The United States 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. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.”
The closure of the Consulate, the statement read, will “protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
China slammed America’s actions on Tuesday. Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters:
“For some time, the United States government has been shifting the blame to China with stigmatization and unwarranted attacks against China’s social system, harassing Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in America, intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them without cause.”
Wang said the U.S. should reverse the decision, “otherwise, China will certainly make legitimate and necessary reactions.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also released a statement saying the closure of the consulate was a “political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the U.S.
“China is committed to the principle of non-interference. Infiltration and interference is never in the genes and tradition of China’s foreign policy.”
Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, wouldn’t provide additional details over the consulate closure in Houston. He did, however, say that U.S. officials set “our clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave. And when they don’t, we’re going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security, and also protect our economy and jobs.”
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who is the acting chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted that the closing of the consulate “needed to happen.” He wrote that it is a “central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies.”
China’s consulate in Houston “was the first to be established,” according to its website. That happened in 1979, after China and America established diplomatic relations. There was already a liaison office in Washington, D.C., that was operating before, though.
The Houston consulate is responsible for eight southern states in the U.S., including Florida and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico.