Closure of extra Chinese embassies ‘attainable’, says Trump as US shuts down consulate in Houston

WASHINGTON: The US doesn’t rule out the potential of closing extra Chinese diplomatic missions within the nation, President Donald Trump has stated, hours after Washington ordered the closure of Beijing’s consulate in Houston to “defend American intellectual property and personal data”.
The US transfer got here amid a rising variety of disputes between the 2 nations over Beijing’s more and more aggressive actions which have led Washington to take robust actions, together with closing the consulate in Houston, in keeping with senior Trump administration officials.
The consulate in Houston, Texas, is considered one of 5 Chinese diplomatic missions within the US, not counting the embassy in Washington DC.
The US transfer got here after the Justice Department stated that hackers working with the Chinese authorities focused companies creating vaccines for the coronavirus and stole tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} price of mental property and commerce secrets and techniques from corporations internationally.
“As far as closing extra embassies, it is at all times attainable,” Trump advised reporters on Wednesday throughout a day by day press briefing on the White House when requested if he’s closing extra Chinese diplomatic missions within the US.
The US State Department in a short assertion on Wednesday stated it has “directed the closure of PRC (People’s Republic of China) Consulate General Houston, with a view to defend American mental property and American’s personal data”.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus stated the US is not going to tolerate the PRC’s violations of its sovereignty and intimidation of its folks, simply because it has not tolerated the PRC’s unfair commerce practices, theft of American jobs, and different egregious behaviour.
She stated Trump “insists on equity and reciprocity in US-China relations.”
During the press convention, Trump referred to the information experiences of fireplace within the Chinese Consulate in Houston apparently as a consequence of burning of paperwork in its courtyard.
“You see what is going on on. We thought there was a hearth within the one which we did shut. And all people stated, ‘There’s a hearth. There’s a hearth.’ And I suppose they have been burning paperwork or burning papers, and I ponder what that is all about,” he stated.
Meanwhile, testifying earlier than the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun gave a context to the choice to shut the Houston consulate.
“We discover the US-China relationship at this time weighed down by a rising variety of disputes, together with business espionage and mental property theft from American corporations; unequal remedy of our diplomats, companies, NGOs, and journalists by Chinese authorities; and abuse of the US educational freedom and welcoming posture towards worldwide college students to steal delicate expertise and analysis from our universities with a view to advance the PRC’s navy,” he stated.
“It is these elements which led the President to direct various actions in response, together with yesterday’s notification to the PRC that we’ve withdrawn our consent for the PRC to function its consulate in Houston, Texas,” Biegun stated.
The transfer to shutdown the Chinese consulate in Houston was welcomed by prime American lawmakers.
Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, alleged that the Chinese Communist Party’s consulate in Houston is a large protected home for “Chi-Comm spies”.
“It’s completely the appropriate name to close it down. We should be throwing much more of Chairman Xi’s brokers in a foreign country,” he stated.
Congressman Michael McCaul, a Republican chief on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated Chinese consulate in Houston is the epicentre of the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing analysis theft within the US, notably for stealing delicate data to construct up their navy.
“The CCP’s current focusing on of US coronavirus vaccine analysis underscores the specter of this consulate’s malign exercise in Houston, a biomedical analysis and expertise hub itself. I’m hopeful this motion will deal a big blow to the CCP’s spy community within the US and ship a transparent message that their widespread espionage campaigns will not go unchecked,” he stated.
In an interview to Fox News, Congresswoman Liz Cheney described it as a robust step. “It is a vital signal that we’re seeing steps like this one, steps just like the President’s sanctions in opposition to the folks within the authorities of China who’re liable for Uighurs and the focus camps in addition to for what is going on on in Hong Kong,” she stated.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, requested, “When China ‘retaliates’, as they’ve stated they’ll, what will likely be our subsequent transfer?”
Reacting strongly to the US transfer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Wednesday termed it as an “unprecedented escalation” and warned retaliatory measures.
Both the US and China have been locked in a political and strategic battle in current months on a bunch of points together with the origin of the coronavirus, China’s resolution to implement its nationwide safety legislation in Hong Kong and deepening commerce frictions.
Beijing apparently is choices to order the closure of the US Consulate in Wuhan or in Hong Kong, the place the Chinese officers had accused the US of backing the anti-China protests.
Apart from the Chinese embassy in Washington, Beijing has an workplace on the United Nations and consulates in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

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