Beijing condemns ‘outrageous and unjustified’ move and threatens countermeasures.

The United States has ordered the closure of China’s consulate in the city of Houston, a move Beijing called “an unprecedented escalation” that will sabotage relations between the two countries.
Morgan Ortagus, spokeswoman for the US Department of State, said in a statement on Wednesday that Washington directed the consulate’s closure “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information”.
The order comes as the world’s two biggest economies clash on a wide range of issues, from trade to China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its policies in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
In Beijing, Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said Washington gave the Chinese side a deadline of three days to close the mission in the Texas city.
“The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China,” Wenbin told a regular news briefing.
“We urge the US to immediately revoke this erroneous decision. Should it insist on going down this wrong path, China will react with firm countermeasures,” he said.
China “strongly condemns” the “outrageous and unjustified move, which will sabotage China-US relations”, he added.
Wengbin said the consulate was operating normally but did not reply to questions about US media reports in Houston on Tuesday night that documents were being burned in a courtyard at the consulate.
The Twitter feed of the Houston police force said officers observed from the courtyard but “were not granted access to enter the building”.
The Chinese Consulate in Houston was opened in 1979 – the first in the year the US and the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations, according to its website.
There are five Chinese consulates in the US, as well as an embassy in Washington.