Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on Thursday that “malicious slander” motivated the forceful shutdown of the Houston Chinese consulate on Wednesday.
Wenbin said during a press briefing in China that the shutdown “violates international law and basic norms governing international relations,” and “seriously undermines China-U.S. relations,” the Associated Press reported.
The U.S. State Department ordered the consulate to shut down earlier this week, according to The Daily Caller. Houston authorities reportedly had to respond after there were reports of smoke billowing out of the consulate courtyard due to open trash cans containing burning documents, local outlets reported.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement emailed to The Daily Caller News Foundation that the U.S. government ordered the closure “in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”
Ortagus said that the U.S. “will not tolerate the [People’s Republic of China’s] violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the [People’s Republic of China’s] unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior.”
Wenbin condemned the State Department’s action Wednesday, claiming it was “political provocation” and an “outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-US relations.”
Hua Chunying, another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on Twitter Wednesday that China will respond with “firm #countermeasures”:
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) July 22, 2020
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized the Chinese government in June for arresting Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun, an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who has published widely shared essays critical of the CCP.
China has also faced criticism from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for its newly imposed national security law in Hong Kong, which purportedly seeks to stabilize the region, but in effect curtails freedom of speech and citizens’ abilities to protest injustices they face under Chinese rule. (RELATED: China Sends Tanks to India’s Borders In Deadly Standoff)
China has also faced pushback from the U.S. over its alleged efforts to steal information about highly sensitive technologies from scientific research being conducted at U.S. institutions of higher education. Ohio Senator Rob Portman proposed bipartisan legislation last month, the Safeguarding American Innovation Act, which gives the State Department greater authority to deny visas and introduces measures to prevent foreigners from gaining access to sensitive technologies.
China has also received criticism from President Donald Trump and others for its mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China.
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