China reacts after US asks it to close its consulate in Houston

New Delhi (NVI): The United States has ordered China to close its Consulate in Houston by Friday, a development that is likely to escalate tensions between the two countries as Beijing has threatened a reciprocal action.

The US has taken the measure following reports in the American media that confidential documents were being burnt on the premises of the Chinese Consulate in Houston.

Reports of documents being burned in the courtyard of the Consulate General of China in Houston emerged on Tuesday night.

The Houston Police pressed fire tenders into action after they received calls regarding fire at the consulate campus. Later, some videos also emerged of fire and smoke billowing out of the consulate.

However, the fire tenders were not allowed to enter the consulate premises as they kept waiting. Later, the Chinese mission was informed of Washington’s decision which has asked the employees of the consulate to vacate the place by Friday 4 pm.

The US has defended its move, saying the decision to close the Chinese Consulate was taken “to protect American intellectual property” and the private information of Americans.

“The US suddenly asked China to close down its Consulate General in Houston. This is a unilateral political provocation by the US side against China, a grave violation of the international law and basic norms governing international relations, a grave violation of relevant provisions of the China-US consular treaty, and a deliberate attempt to undermine China-US relations,” the Chinese spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Global Times.

“The Chinese side strongly condemned the move, and urged the US to immediately correct its mistakes. Otherwise, China will make a legitimate and necessary response,” the spokesperson said.