China is currently fuming and has vowed a terrifying response following the U.S. order to close down its consulate in Houston, with very important documents burnt in the premises of the building as tensions between the two economic powers intensify.
A spokesperson for the State Department Morgan Ortagus said: “We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”
However, Beijing has released a statement describing the action as “an unprecedented escalation” and has vowed to retaliate if the U.S. did not revoke the decision immediately.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin added the US Government “abruptly informed” China it had to immediately close the consulate.
He said: “This political provocation has been unilaterally initiated by the US side in violation of international law and basic norms guiding international relations.”
“China strongly condemns this outrageous and unjustified move to sabotage China-US relations. The Chinese side urges the US side to immediately retract this wrong decision. Otherwise, the Chinese side will make a legitimate and necessary response.
“The US has far more diplomatic missions and staff working in China. So if the US is bent on going down this wrong path, we will resolutely respond,” he said.
There’s video footage on social media which shows people in the courtyard of the consulate in Houston, burning document in drums, as television station KPRC2 reported emergency services attended the scene after calls from locals but did not enter the building.
KTRK quoted Houston fire department chief Samuel Pena, an ABC television affiliate: “It appears to be open burning in a container within the courtyard of the Chinese consulate facility.
“It does not appear to be an unconfined fire but we have not been allowed access. We are standing by and monitoring.”
The Houston Chronicle quoted an unnamed official as saying the consulate staff have been told they will be evicted from the building at 4 pm local time on Friday. The consulate in Houston opened in 1979 and is located in an area with a large Chinese community.
The mission handles consular matters for eight states: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, plus Puerto Rico.
Relations between the US and China have deteriorated so badly of late, particularly since the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan at the start of this year.
The two countries have also clashed over trade, technology, a national security law imposed on Hong Kong and Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.