People Seen Burning Documents After US Orders China To Close Houston Consulate
People were seen allegedly burning documents at the Chinese Consulate in Houston after China claims that the US told them they had 72 hours to close it. The US State Department said China was threatening US sovereignty and intimidating US citizens, according to a report by Business Insider.
The documents were being burned in trashcans in the courtyard of the consulate. One witness said, “You could just smell the paper burning.”
It was reported that law enforcement and firefighters were not allowed into the area as it is considered to be Chinese territory.
The Houston police tweeted about the incident, saying "About 8:25 pm on Tuesday, our officers responded to a meet the firefighter call to the China Consulate General in Houston building ... Smoke was observed in an outside courtyard area. Officers were not granted access to enter the building."
The US State Department confirmed that the US ordered China to close the Houston consulate.
"We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston in order to protect American intellectual property and American's private information," said US State Department representative Morgan Ortagus, using an abbreviation for the People's Republic of China.
She added, "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.”
Ortagus also stated that, “President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in US-China relations."
Earlier this week, the Justice Department charged two Chinese state-backed hackers for hacking into US entities’ systems in order to steal data. It is not clear whether these charges and the recent events are related.
US-China relations have worsened in recent months given the outbreak of the pandemic. Some say that we may be on the edge of a new Cold War.
Chinese officials spoke out against the recent US order.
Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry representative, said the order was an “unprecedented escalation” between the US and China and "seriously violated international law and basic norms of international relation.”
Wenbin also said, "China strongly condemns this. China urges the US to immediately revoke the wrong decision. Otherwise, China will definitely make a proper and necessary response."
An unidentified source claims that Beijing is considering closing the US consulate in Wuhan in retaliation, but their next move is still unclear.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also spoke out, saying, "For a period of time, the US government has repeatedly stigmatized China, conducted unprovoked attacks on China's development, unreasonably made things difficult for Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in the US, and intimidated, interrogated, and confiscated personal electronic equipment from Chinese students studying in the US.”
However, no evidence was given to back up the accusations.
In 2017, the US also ordered Russia to close their consulate in San Francisco after Russia limited the number of US diplomats allowed in Moscow.
China also has consulates located in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco and an embassy in Washington D.C.
Read the full report here.