Expelled: Trump gives China consul 72 hour to leave the U.S.
The Trump administration expelled the entire Chinese consulate in Houston, telling the Chinese diplomats that the administration will no longer tolerate the theft of U.S. intellectual property by the consul operations in Texas.
“We have directed the closure of PRC [People’s Republic of China] Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, according to the BBC.
The closure is the latest volley in the battle between the U.S. and China over trade, spying, COVID and human rights abuses by China.
The U.S., said the State Department spokesman, “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.”
“#Infiltration & #interference is never in the genes & tradition of China’s #ForeignPolicy. While Chinese diplomats are promoting mutual understanding & friendship, the #US embassy in China publicly attacks China’s political system,” responded a PRC Foreign Ministry spokeswomen.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), however, says that the consulate in Houston has no legitimate diplomatic purpose, but only serves as a clearinghouse for the theft of U.S. intellectual property by China.
“#China’s consulate in #Houston is not a diplomatic facility. It is the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States. Now that building must close & the spies have 72 hours to leave or face arrest. This needed to happen,” tweeted Rubio.
Experts in Asia say the closure might be tied to China’s treatment of Western and U.S. diplomats, or to China’s denial of a U.S. consulate in western China.
“The move is a political one and a legal one,” said Shi Yinhong, an expert in US affairs at Renmin University in Beijing, who spoke to the South China Morning Post. “It’s a very serious event and a symbol that after the pandemic and the enactment of Hong Kong’s national security law, US-China ties are in free fall.”
The BBC says that emergency services were called in Houston after smoke was spotted coming from the consulate last night. Houston Police, however, weren’t granted access.
Video by a local TV crew show workers pouring water on a fire in the courtyard that appears to contain documents.
Likely, the Chinese consulate staff was hastily destroying top-secret information that was housed at the consulate as they prepare to repatriate to China.
The Chinese government seem genuinely shocked by the consulate’s closure and somewhat shaken.
“The US asked China to close Consulate General in Houston in 72 hours. This is a crazy move,” wrote Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a mouthpiece for the PRC.
The PRC promised that they would retaliate with a corresponding measure to punish the U.S.
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