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Closure of extra Chinese embassies ‘possible’, says Trump as U.S. shuts down consulate in Houston

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The U.S. doesn’t rule out the potential for closing extra Chinese diplomatic missions within the nation, President Donald Trump has stated, hours after Washington ordered the closure of Beijing’s consulate in Houston to “protect American intellectual property and private information.”

The U.S. transfer got here amid a rising variety of disputes between the 2 international locations over Beijing’s more and more aggressive actions which have led Washington to take sturdy actions, together with closing the consulate in Houston, in line with senior Trump administration officers.

The consulate in Houston, Texas, is certainly one of 5 Chinese diplomatic missions within the U.S., not counting the embassy in Washington DC.

The U.S. transfer got here after the Justice Department stated that hackers working with the Chinese authorities focused companies creating vaccines for the coronavirus and stole a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} value of mental property and commerce secrets and techniques from corporations internationally.

“As far as closing additional embassies, it’s always possible,” Mr. Trump informed reporters on Wednesday throughout a every day press briefing on the White House when requested if he’s taking a look at closing extra Chinese diplomatic missions within the U.S.

The U.S. State Department in a short assertion on Wednesday stated it has “directed the closure of PRC (People’s Republic of China) Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus stated the U.S. won’t tolerate the PRC’s violations of its sovereignty and intimidation of its folks, simply because it has not tolerated the PRC’s unfair commerce practices, theft of American jobs, and different egregious behaviour.

She stated Mr. Trump “insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.”

During the press convention, Mr. Trump referred to the information reviews of fireside within the Chinese Consulate in Houston apparently as a result of burning of paperwork in its courtyard.

“You see what’s going on. We thought there was a fire in the one that we did close. And everybody said, ‘There’s a fire. There’s a fire.’ And I guess they were burning documents or burning papers, and I wonder what that’s all about,” he stated.

Meanwhile, testifying earlier than the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun gave a context to the choice to shut the Houston consulate.

“We find the U.S.-China relationship today weighed down by a growing number of disputes, including commercial espionage and intellectual property theft from American companies; unequal treatment of our diplomats, businesses, NGOs, and journalists by Chinese authorities; and abuse of the US academic freedom and welcoming posture toward international students to steal sensitive technology and research from our universities in order to advance the PRC’s military,” he stated.

“It is these factors which led the President to direct a number of actions in response, including yesterday’s notification to the PRC that we have withdrawn our consent for the PRC to operate its consulate in Houston, Texas,” Mr. Biegun stated.

The transfer to shutdown the Chinese consulate in Houston was welcomed by high American lawmakers.

Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, alleged that the Chinese Communist Party’s consulate in Houston is a large protected home for “Chi-Comm spies”.

“It’s absolutely the right call to shut it down. We ought to be throwing even more of Chairman Xi’s agents out of the country,” he stated.

Congress member Michael McCaul, a Republican chief on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated Chinese consulate in Houston is the epicentre of the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing analysis theft within the U.S., notably for stealing delicate data to construct up their navy.

“The CCP’s recent targeting of U.S. coronavirus vaccine research underscores the threat of this consulate’s malign activity in Houston, a biomedical research and technology hub itself. I am hopeful this action will deal a significant blow to the CCP’s spy network in the US and send a clear message that their widespread espionage campaigns will no longer go unchecked,” he stated.

In an interview to Fox News, Congressperson Liz Cheney described it as a robust step. “It is a very important sign that we are seeing steps like this one, steps like the President’s sanctions against the people in the government of China who are responsible for Uighurs and the concentration camps as well as for what’s going on in Hong Kong,” she stated.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, requested, “When China ‘retaliates’, as they have said they will, what will be our next move?”

China’s response

Reacting strongly to the U.S. transfer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Wednesday termed it as an “unprecedented escalation and warned retaliatory measures.”

Both the U.S. and China have been locked in a political and strategic battle in latest months on a bunch of points together with the origin of the coronavirus, China’s resolution to implement its nationwide safety regulation in Hong Kong and deepening commerce frictions.

Beijing apparently is taking a look at choices to order the closure of the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan or in Hong Kong, the place the Chinese officers had accused the U.S. of backing the anti-China protests.

Apart from the Chinese embassy in Washington, Beijing has an workplace on the United Nations and consulates in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

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