bdmetronews Desk ॥ The U.S. State Department said in a statement that the closure was to protect American intellectual property and private information.
China vowed to retaliate Wednesday after the United States abruptly ordered the closure of its consulate in Houston, a move that further inflamed tensions between the two superpowers.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said China was notified on Tuesday that it must close the consulate within 72 hours. In a regular daily news briefing, he described the action as an “unprecedented escalation” and said China would “react with firm countermeasures” if the U.S. does not revoke the decision.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that the closure was “to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”
She did elaborate on what prompted the decision but said: “The United States will not tolerate the (People’s Republican of China’s) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people.” It is unusual but not unprecedented for the U.S. to close another country’s consulate.
The action swiftly follows a U.S. Department of Justice indictment of two Chinese hackers accused of stealing trade secrets from hundreds of global targets and, more recently, probing for vulnerabilities in U.S. companies involved in the development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
And Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida who is the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a tweet that “#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue.”
Rubio didn’t elaborate on his characterization of China’s consulate.