Consulate Controversy: China's Consulate in Houston Closed, P.R.C. Orders U.S. Consulate Shut in Chengdu
July 24, 2020 (EIRNS)—In a July 23 interview with Politico, Cai Wei, the Chinese Consul General in Houston, said China is protesting the July 21 order by the U.S. that China’s Houston Consulate be closed within three days. Cai reported that the office will remain open “until further notice.” He said, “Today we are still operating normally, so we will see what will happen tomorrow. We think that the demand from the U.S. side ... is not according to the Vienna Convention on consular affairs and also is not according to international practice or [diplomatic] norms, and it violates the China-U.S. consular treaty.”
Claims from U.S. officials are that the consulate was used in a particularly egregious way for espionage activity. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted, predictably, “#China’s consulate in #Houston is not a diplomatic facility. It is the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States. Now that building must close & the spies have 72 hours to leave or face arrest. This needed to happen.”
As of this morning, trucks outside the consulate were being loaded with material from the consulate. The diplomats and staff have 30 days to leave the United States.
In response to the closure of the Houston consulate, the P.R.C.’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a press release the revocation of the license for the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China, requiring it to cease operation. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, which borders Tibet and is the U.S. consulate closest to Xinjiang. The Chinese press release concludes: “We once again urge the U.S. to immediately revoke the erroneous decision to create necessary conditions for the return of bilateral relations to normal.”