The United States directed the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, a move to protect American intellectual property and American's private information.
The ties between two countries continue to sour this year over issues on Coronavirus, Trade, specifically the controversial ban of tech giant Huawei, and the most recent sanctions imposed by Trump on Hong Kong.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, in a statement, that the order is to protect American intellectual property and American's private information. She added that the state will not tolerate any forms of intimidation and continued violations on the people’s sovereignty as it condemns the People’s Republic of China’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior.
Wang Wenbin, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, referred the decision as an outrageous and unjustified move that will spark more tension between two economic giants and warned that China will retaliate should the US stand firm on this and not reverse such action.
On Tuesday, people overlooking at the building noticed several bins on fire that sparked rumors that people inside the consulate were burning documents. Houston police responded after reports were made and were not granted permission to enter the building.
About 8:25 pm on Tuesday, our officers responded to a meet the firefighter call to the China Consulate General in Houston building at 3417 Montrose Blvd.— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) July 22, 2020
Smoke was observed in an outside courtyard area. Officers were not granted access to enter the building. 1/2
Houston Chinese Consulate is one of the five consulates in the US and it is not clear why this was the only consulate ordered to cease operations and events. Trump’s administration is keen on publicly calling out the Chinese government, on human rights violations, unfair trading practices, and intellectual property theft and the pandemic which he repeatedly addressed as “China virus”, even in the midst of presidential re-election campaign and an economy that is battered by the pandemic.