After Houston, China may ask US to close Wuhan consulate: Reports

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, India Updated: Jul 24, 2020, 07:20 AM(IST)

Flags of the US and China (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that China was stealing intellectual property.

The United States has asked China to close its Houston embassy because Washington claims the move will "protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information." China has been given 72 hours to wind up its operations.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that China was stealing intellectual property.

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A video of men destroying papers in the courtyard of the Houston consulate has been circulating on social media since Tuesday. 

While the authenticity of the video cannot be guaranteed, emergency services were called to the consulate building. The Houston police said they did notice smoke, but were not allowed to enter the consulate.

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The incident happened on the same day as the US authorities also accused China of sponsoring hackers who were targeting the US labs. Within 24 hours, China was told to close its Houston consulate.

Beijing has called the accusations of intellectual theft "malicious slander". The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the order to close the consulate undermines the already deteriorating US-China relations.

Wang Wenbin, spokesman of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "The US side required China to close the consulate general in Houston, that seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, seriously violates the related regulations in the bilateral consular agreement between China and the United States, and severely undermines China-US relations."

The Houston consulate was China's first consulate general in the US. China has four more consulates in the US, including the embassy in Washington DC.

China's Foreign Ministry now claims that its Washington embassy has received death threats.

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The Chinese consulate in San Francisco too is under scrutiny. The FBI claims that a Chinese researcher accused of visa fraud has been taking refuge in the building.

The US President Donald Trump has said that the US may ask China to close more consulates. "As far as closing additional embassies, it's always possible. You see what's going on, we thought there was a fire in the one that we did close and everybody said 'there's a fire, there's a fire'. And I guess they were burning documents are burning papers and I wonder what that was all about," he said.

According to Chinese media reports, Beijing may retaliate by asking the US to close its Wuhan consulate. China's main media outlet, Global Times, even put up a poll on which US consulate China could close.

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However, the interesting thing that Twitter has been banned in China, so the whole point of voting becomes kind of obsolete.

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