US orders China to close its consulate in Houston; Chinese FM calls move 'outrageous'

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin condemned the action and warned of firm counter measures if US did not reverse its decision.

The Associated Press July 22, 2020 15:39:54 IST
US orders China to close its consulate in Houston; Chinese FM calls move 'outrageous'

Beijing: China said Wednesday that the US has ordered it to close its consulate in Houston in what an official called an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage China-US relations.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin condemned the action, which comes as tensions rise between the world's two largest economies. He warned of firm countermeasures if the US does not reverse its decision.

“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,” Wang said at a daily news briefing.

There was no immediate confirmation or explanation from the US side. Besides its embassy in Beijing, the US has five consulates in mainland China, according to its website. They are in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang.

Media reports in Houston said that authorities had responded to reports of a fire at the Chinese Consulate. Witnesses said that people were burning paper in what appeared to be trash cans, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing police.

Police were told that occupants were given until 4 pm Friday to leave the property, the Chronicle said.

Houston police said in a tweet that officers responded to “a meet the firefighter” call at the Chinese Consulate building at 3417 Montrose Blvd. The tweet said that smoke was observed in an outdoor courtyard area and that officers were not allowed to enter the building.

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