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U.S. orders China to shut Texas consulate; Beijing might retaliate

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The United States has advised China to shut its consulate in Houston, each nations stated on Wednesday, additional deteriorating bilateral ties, and a supply stated Beijing was contemplating shutting the U.S. consulate in Wuhan in retaliation.

Washington “abruptly demanded” closure of the Houston consulate on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry stated. The editor of an official media outlet stated China had been given 72 hours to take action.

Also learn: Analysis | Are the U.S. and China coming into a brand new Cold War?

Beijing condemned the order and threatened retaliation, however didn’t say what measures it’d take.

The State Department confirmed the choice and stated the transfer was made “to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”

National safety cited

Speaking on a go to to Denmark, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supplied no specifics, however repeated accusations about Chinese theft of U.S. and European mental property, which he stated have been costing “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

“President Trump has said enough — we are not going to allow this to continue to happen,” he advised a information convention.

“We are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist party is going to behave. And when they don’t, we are going to take action to protect the American people, protect our national security and also protect our economy and jobs.

“That’s the actions that you’re seeing taken by President Trump, we’ll continue to engage in this,” stated Mr. Pompeo.

The deterioration in U.S.-China ties comes within the run-up to the November U.S. presidential election, by which President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden have appeared to compete over who can look more durable in response to China.

Also learn | Coronavirus – China refutes 24 ‘lies’ by U.S.

Late on Tuesday in Houston, native media reported that paperwork had been burned in a courtyard on the consulate. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stated the consulate was working usually, declining to remark additional on these stories.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus stated the consulate was ordered shut “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”

Under the Vienna Convention, states “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs” of the receiving state, Ms. Ortagus stated.

The State Department additionally stated China has engaged in large spying and affect operations all through the United States for years. “These activities have increased markedly in scale and scope over the past few years,” it stated.

‘Violation of sovereignty’

“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 behaviour,” Ms. Ortagus stated in an announcement, utilizing an acronym for China’s official title, the People’s Republic of China.

It was not instantly clear why China’s Houston consulate had been singled out. “The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin advised a daily information briefing.

“We urge the U.S. to immediately revoke this erroneous decision. Should it insist on going down this wrong path, China will react with firm countermeasures.”

Mr. Wang stated the U.S. authorities had been harassing Chinese diplomats and consular workers for a while and “intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them.”

He stated the United States had interfered with China’s diplomatic missions, together with intercepting diplomatic pouches and confiscating Chinese objects for “official use”. He didn’t specify whether or not the actions have been associated to the Houston consulate.

The State Department didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the Chinese fees.

A supply with direct information of the matter stated China was contemplating closing the U.S. consulate in Wuhan, the place the State Department withdrew workers and their households early this 12 months amid the COVID-19 outbreak that first emerged within the central metropolis. China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon whether or not it will shut the consulate.

Last month, the U.S. embassy in Beijing stated that the United States would resume operations on the Wuhan consulate quickly.

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