US orders China to close its consulate in Houston

China says the U.S. had abruptly demanded the previous day that the consulate cease all operations

The U.S. has ordered China to close its Houston consulate in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information..

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China calls the action a provocation that violates international law.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Wednesday that the U.S. had abruptly demanded the previous day that the consulate cease all operations.

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He said that China strongly condemns “such an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage China-U.S. relations.”

The U.S. State Department issued the following statement:

The Vienna Convention states diplomats must “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.” The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations. We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.

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

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.