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US-China tensions escalated on Wednesday as Washington demanded that China close its Consulate General in Houston, Texas.
The Chinese embassy in the United States said on Wednesday the U.S. government's abrupt request to close the Chinese Consulate General in Houston as of July 24 is "a political provocation," and "an outrageous and unjustified move which sabotages China-U.S. relations.
"It is a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the U.S.," said the embassy in a statement.
The communication refers that over the years, Chinese diplomatic missions in the U.S., including the Consulate General in Houston, have been performing duties in strict accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has called the U.S. government's move "an unprecedented escalation" of hostilities amid the growing tension that dominates relations between Washington and Beijing, which have festered in recent months due to the intense trade and technology war, disputes over the handling of the pandemic and the new Chinese security law in Hong Kong.
The #US demanded the closure of Chinese Consulate General in #Houston in 3 days. The reason is to protect "American intellectual property & private information". Unbelievably ridiculous! pic.twitter.com/qTgWpDm33m
The U.S. State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, said that the move against the Chinese Consulate in Houston it is aimed to ensure the protection of American intellectual property and personal data of U.S. citizens, due to an alleged smoke outbreak at the Asian country's consulate's courtyard.
The Chinese embassy said the U.S. accusations are groundless fabrications, and the excuses it cites are far-fetched and untenable. For the U.S. side, if it is bent on attacking China, it will never be short of excuses.
"We urge the U.S. side to immediately revoke this erroneous decision. Otherwise, China will have to respond with legitimate and necessary actions," stated.
The Trump Administration's order comes a day after the Justice Department accused two Chinese citizens of allegedly working for their government by stealing intellectual property from Western companies in 11 countries, including companies developing a vaccine against the new coronavirus.