United States orders shutting down of Chinese consulate in Houston

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The news, first reported by Axios, comes as US-China tensions flare, with the United States giving China 72 hours to close its consulate in Houston amid accusations of spying.

"China strongly condemns this outrageous and unjustified move to sabotage China-US relations", Wang said. It did not provide any details.

Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, who has been a leader in aggressively pushing hard-line policies on China, said Wednesday at a news conference in Copenhagen that the Trump administration was 'setting out clear expectations as to how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave'.

Polls show President Donald Trump trailing his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, ahead of the November 3 election as the worsening coronavirus crisis exacts a deep toll on the US economy.

Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, alleged that the Chinese Communist Party's consulate in Houston is a massive safe house for "Chi-Comm spies". The Vienna Convention, an worldwide treaty to which the USA and China are parties which governs diplomatic operations, prohibits diplomatic personnel and pouches from being searched.

On July 21, the US abruptly demanded that the Chinese Consulate-General in Houston cease all operations and events within a time limit.

The Chinese embassy in the USA on Thursday strongly condemned Washington's request to close the Chinese Consulate-General in Houston, Texas, saying the move is a political provocation unilaterally initiated against China by the US side. He warned of firm countermeasures if the United States did not reverse it.

The FBI believes the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a Chinese researcher who is charged in federal court in California with lying about her military background.

The Chinese foreign ministry has slammed the order. "There exists evidence in at least one of these cases of a military scientist copying or stealing information from American institutions at the direction of military superiors in China", they said.

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Analysts in the US have pointed to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco as a more crucial hub for intelligence gathering than Houston, and possibly the Trump administration's next target.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it would shut the consulate.

"Remember though tariffs that were imposed, those haven't worked, so trying to close consulates and other facilities may have more of an effect on Beijing".

Chinese state tabloid the Global Times, which often serves as a conduit for statements of official policy, suggested on Twitter that Beijing could retaliate by shutting down the USA consulate in Hong Kong. Witnesses explained that people today ended up burning paper in what appeared to be trash cans, according to police.

Police were told that occupants were given until 4 p.m. Friday to leave the property, the Chronicle said. However, they were not allowed to enter the building.

The US government had been harassing Chinese diplomats and consular staff for some time, Wang said, and "intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them".

China has five consulates in the United States.

China is committed to the principle of non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs.

China has four other consulates in the United States - in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and NY - as well as an embassy in Washington. "The Chinese don't give us almost that kind of access in China, and we don't kind of do anything about it". "We'll continue to engage in those".

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