The US ordered China to shut its consulate in Houston, with officials accusing it and other Chinese diplomatic missions of economic espionage and visa fraud, an unprecedented escalation in a rapidly deteriorating relationship, reported the Wall Street Journal.
US officials said Wednesday that the Houston consulate has been a focus of rising concern and has until 4 p.m. Friday to close. Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell in an interview called the order to close the Houston consulate “long overdue” and said it followed a series of malign activities including visa fraud and research theft—trends he said have accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic.
China’s Foreign Ministry first confirmed the shutdown order early Wednesday after Houston news media reported people burning documents inside the consulate compound in an apparent preparation to vacate the premises. A ministry spokesman called the decision outrageous and said Beijing would retaliate.