The United States abruptly ordered the closure of China’s consulate today in Houston, a move that will further inflame tensions between the two superpowers.
In a regular daily news briefing Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said China was notified on Tuesday that it must close the consulate within 72 hours. Wenbin described the action as an “unprecedented escalation” and said China would “react with firm countermeasures” if the U.S. does not revoke the decision.
“The United States will not tolerate the (People’s Republican of China’s) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said. It is unusual but not unprecedented for the U.S. to close another country’s consulate. Ortagus also added, that the closure was “to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to explain what triggered the decision when pressed on the matter during a news briefing in Copenhagen, where he was meeting with Danish officials. “President Trump has said, ‘enough,'” Pompeo said. “We’re not going to allow this to continue to happen.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a tweet that “#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center” and added that “forcing it to close is long overdue.”
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