US confirms it ordered closure of Chinese consulate in Houston

(Update: adds US confirmation and quotes)

Beijing/Washington, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- The United States confirmed on Wednesday that it ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas.

Beijing has strongly criticized the decision and threatened to retaliate if Washington does not rectify the situation.

The order from the US Department of State came amid growing political tensions that have escalated between the world’s two largest economies for months.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston was ordered to protect American intellectual property and the private information of its citizens, according to local media reports.

The Vienna Convention says 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,” she told US news broadcaster CNBC.

She added that Washington would not tolerate violations by China of US sovereignty or intimidation of American citizens.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said today that “the United States has called for the immediate cessation of all operations of the consulate from July 24,” which is “a violation of international norms and agreements. consular issues between the two countries, as well as an attempt to undermine bilateral relations. ”

“We ask the US to retract this erroneous decision, or else China will take legitimate and necessary retaliation,” said Wang, adding that closing the consulate “in such a short period of time” implies “a unprecedented increase in the actions that country has carried out against China. ”

Beijing denounces the closure of the consulate a day after the US accused its intelligence services of supporting cyber attacks by two Chinese ‘hackers’ against companies from 11 countries to try to steal vaccine data for COVID-19 and secrets. of military technology.

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