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China vows response after US orders Houston consulate general closed

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China’s Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the US for asking the Chinese Consulate General in Houston to close down, a reckless and dangerous move which analysts said will further flare up ongoing tensions between the two largest economies in the world. 

The US suddenly asked China to close down its Consulate General in Houston. This is a unilateral political provocation by the US side against China, a grave violation of the international law and basic norms governing international relations, a grave violation of relevant provisions of the China-US consular treaty, and a deliberate attempt to undermine China-US relations, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday. 

 

The Chinese side strongly condemned the move, and urged the US to immediately correct its mistakes. Otherwise, China will make a legitimate and necessary response, the spokesperson said. 

For some time, the US has been attacking and launching smear campaigns against China, and unreasonably made trouble for staff members at Chinese consulates. The latest move to ask China to close its Consulate General in Houston is an unprecedented escalation of its moves against China, the spokesperson said. 

In October 2019 and June 2020, the US side put up obstacles to Chinese diplomatic staff in the US, opened Chinese diplomatic bags privately on many occasions, and seized Chinese official supplies, the spokesperson said.  

As a result of the recent indiscriminate stigmatization and incitement of hatred by the US, bomb and death threats have been made against Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel in the US, the spokesperson said.

The website of the US Embassy in China often publishes articles openly attacking China. It is clear who is interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and who is infiltrating and inciting confrontations, he said. 

The Consulate General in Houston is the first Chinese consulate general established in the US. Several Chinese experts on China-US relations said, “Washington is completely out of the line,” while one expert suggested that China could take countermeasures such as shutting down the US Consulate General in Hong Kong.

Observers also called the move “unprecedented”, saying it would trigger a broader earthquake in diplomatic ties between the two countries.     

Some video footage circulating on social media showed documents being burned in the courtyard of the consulate general on Wednesday, with police and firefighters present at the scene. 

The last time the Trump administration ordered a foreign consulate on American territory to close down was in August 2017, when it ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two diplomatic annexes, in New York and Washington, “bearing all of the hallmarks of a Cold War-era grudge match,” according to the New York Times. 

Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the US move, which is unprecedented in the history of China-US relations, indicated a serious escalation in bilateral confrontations and will definitely result in countermeasures from China. 

Xin said that asking the Chinese consulate general to close down on a short notice is very rude, and is tantamount to deportation.

The US move disregards the consequences of all-around deterioration in bilateral ties and it seems that easing China-US relations is almost impossible during the Trump administration, Xin said. 

He said that the US takes the full responsibility for the deterioration in bilateral ties, and under the current circumstances, the possibility that the US may deport some Chinese diplomats in the US or even break ties with China cannot be ruled out, Xin said.   

Xin said it is also possible that China will shut down the US Consulate General in Hong Kong as a countermeasure, which will be conducive for Hong Kong’s stability as US staff there stirred up a great deal of trouble during last year’s social unrest in Hong Kong.