In an escalation of U.S.-China tensions, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the move was to “protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.” Beijing on Wednesday called the closure an “unprecedented escalation” of recent tensions and warned of firm countermeasures, including the potential closure of a U.S. diplomatic mission in China. Before the public announcement, local Houston media reported police and firefighters responded to calls from neighbors that consular staff were burning documents in the consulate courtyard.
What exactly caused the closure? Ortagus suggested China violated the Vienna Convention, which states diplomats must “respect the laws and regulation of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.” However, the State Department did not elaborate. China and the United States have recently tussled over issues of human rights, coronavirus origins, trade, and technology.
Dig deeper: Read June Cheng’s report on the U.S. government’s recent spate of sanctions on China.
Onize Ohikere is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.