United States has asked China to close down its consulate in Houston within three days to “protect American intellectual property and America’s private information”, local media reported on July 22.
The US State Department said that international agreements required diplomats to respect the laws and regulations of the host nation and not interfere in its internal affairs.
“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 behavior,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
Responding to US’ decision, China threatened to react with “firm counter-measures” if the Trump administration did not “revoke this erroneous decision”.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing that China planned to “react with firm countermeasures” if the Trump administration did not “revoke this erroneous decision”.
Sources said in Washington that China had increased spying and influence operations during the past few years including interference in domestic politics, stolen intellectual property and harassment of business leaders.
China however, denied and said infiltration and interference was never in the “genes and tradition of its foreign policy”.
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.
Propelling bilateral tensions further between Beijing and Washington, the Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times, in a report citing experts’ opinion said that China could take countermeasures such as shutting down the US Consulate General in Hong Kong.