US orders closure of Chinese consulate in Houston

New Europe - Elena Pavlovska

The United States government has ordered China to “cease all operations and events” at its consulate in Houston, Texas, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Tensions have escalated between China and the US amid an ongoing trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and US criticism of China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

A US state department spokesperson said the consulate was directed to close “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information”. A separate state department statement said that China “has engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations” and that those “activities have increased markedly in scale and scope over the past few years”.

“China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-US relations. We urge the US to immediately withdraw its erroneous decision, otherwise China will make legitimate and necessary reactions”, the Chinese foreign ministry said in response.

Meanwhile, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo visited the United Kingdom, where he met prime minister Boris Johnson and urged a coalition that understands the threat of the Chinese Communist Party.

Amid heightened tensions with China, Britain has in recent weeks banned Huawei from its 5G network, suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offered refuge for millions of Hong Kongers who feel threatened.

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