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China Says U.S. Ordered it to Close Houston Consulate in 72 Hours

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The United States ordered China to shut its diplomatic consulate in Houston, the Chinese international ministry stated on Wednesday, dealing one other blow to the quickly deteriorating relations between the 2 international locations.

In the hours after the Trump administration notified the Chinese of its resolution, smoke was seen billowing from a courtyard contained in the consulate as staff dumped what gave the impression to be paperwork into flaming barrels, based on a video posted by KPRC-TV, an area tv station.

The Houston police and fireplace departments responded to reviews of a hearth on Tuesday night however didn’t enter the constructing, over which the Chinese have sovereignty.

The closure in Houston was the newest effort by the Trump administration to tighten the reins on Chinese diplomats, journalists, students and others within the United States. Restrictions have included Cold-War-like journey guidelines for diplomats and requiring a number of Chinese state information organizations to register as diplomatic entities. The administration can be contemplating a ban on journey to the United States by members of the Communist Party and their households, a transfer that will have an effect on 270 million individuals.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged the United States to reverse the choice instantly. “Otherwise China will certainly make legitimate and necessary reactions,” he stated, suggesting that China might, at a minimal, shut one of many American consulates in China.

Mr. Wang referred to as the transfer unprecedented and unlawful underneath worldwide regulation, and described it as the newest in a sequence of aggressions.

“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,” he stated.

Closing a consulate is a severe matter, however it’s not unprecedented in instances of diplomatic tensions.

In 2017, the Trump administration ordered Russia to shut its consulate in San Francisco, together with two annexes close to New York and Washington, in retaliation for Russian restrictions on the variety of American diplomats in Moscow. Those strikes stemmed from the furor over Russia’s interference within the 2016 presidential election, the fallout from which remains to be felt, regardless of Mr. Trump’s tried outreach to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.

In addition to its embassy in Washington, China operates consulates in 4 different cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The impact of the closure on relations — and journey — remained unsure. Consulates principally course of visas for vacationers visiting China; the Houston consulate dealt with these for the southern states, from Texas to Florida. Travel between the 2 international locations has been severely restricted in any case due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hu Xijin, an editor with The Global Times, a nationalist newspaper managed by the Communist Party, referred to as the American transfer outrageous, notably given the quick discover for Chinese diplomats to filter out inside 72 hours.

“This is a manifestation of panic,” he wrote in a observe posted on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform. “It seems that Washington has no bottom line.”

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