President Donald Trump said it was “always possible” he would order the closure of more Chinese consulates in the United States in the wake of the State Department’s order to close Beijing’s consulate in Houston.
Trump, at a White House news conference, noted that a fire was spotted on the Houston consulate’s grounds after the State Department ordered the closure in 72 hours. “I guess they were burning documents and burning papers,” he said.
The move by the United States government to shut down China’s consulate in Houston is an attempt to blame Beijing for American failures ahead of presidential elections in November, Chinese state media said in editorials published on Thursday.
The United States said on Wednesday it had given China 72 hours to close the consulate “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information”.
The decision marked a dramatic escalation of tensions between the world’s two biggest economies amid fresh accusations of Chinese espionage in the United States and calls by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a new global coalition against Beijing.
China’s embassy to the United States described the move to close the Houston consulate as a “political provocation” and called on Washington to “immediately revoke” the decision. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying wrote on Twitter that China would “surely react with firm countermeasures”.