Hong Kong (CNN)The United States federal government has abruptly ordered China to “cease all functions and occasions” at its consulate in Houston, Texas, according to the Chinese International Ministry, in what it named an “unprecedented escalation” in the latest actions taken by Washington.
US Point out Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus stated the consulate was directed to near “in get to protect American intellectual house and Americans’ private data.”
Late Tuesday evening nearby time, police in Houston said they responded to reports of smoke in the courtyard outdoors the consulate, positioned on Montrose Boulevard, in the city’s Midtown space. Community media shared video clip of what appeared to be officers inside of the compound burning files.
In a assertion posted on its official social media, the Chinese Overseas Ministry stated the get to shut the consulate was a “political provocation unilaterally launched by the US side, which critically violates international legislation, essential norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement among China and the US.”
“China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-US relations,” it stated. “We urge the US to immediately withdraw its faulty choice, or else China will make reputable and vital reactions.”
The assertion goes on to say the US has been “shifting the blame to China with stigmatization and unwarranted attacks versus China’s social program, harassing Chinese diplomatic and consular staff members in the US, intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personalized electrical gadgets, even detaining them without having lead to.”
It added “China is committed to the principle of non-interference. Infiltration and interference is never ever in the genes and custom of China’s foreign policy.”
Relations amongst China and the United States have plummeted in the previous 12 months, amid an ongoing trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and US criticism of China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
On Tuesday, US prosecutors charged two alleged Chinese hackers about a “sweeping international personal computer intrusion campaign” that they say was supported by the country’s government and aimed at coronavirus treatment method and vaccine study.
The indictment also marks the initially time that the US has accused the hackers of working on behalf of the Chinese government.
US Secretary of Point out Mike Pompeo is now in Europe, where by he has been rallying leaders on the continent to acquire a more challenging line with Beijing, and meeting with exiled dissidents.
“The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s (People today Republic of China) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our persons, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade tactics, theft of American positions, and other egregious actions. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in US-China relations,” Ortagus stated in the statement.
On Twitter, Hu Xijin, editor of the state-backed tabloid World wide Occasions with powerful ties to China’s Communist Occasion, claimed that Beijing had been presented 72 several hours to close the consulate. “This is a nuts go,” he added.
In accordance to a statement on its internet site, the Houston consulate covers 8 southern US states, which includes Texas and Florida, as effectively as Puerto Rico. It was the “was the to start with (consulate) to be proven” in 1979 right after the US and China established diplomatic relations, even though a liaison office environment was by now running in Washington D.C. at that time.