The United States wanted to send a message to China by closing its consulate that it should reduce its espionage activities. “There comes a time when you have to say stop,” said a senior US State Department official. It is the latest development in the rapidly deteriorating relations between the two countries.
On Tuesday, the Americans ordered the diplomatic office in Houston to close within days. Then the trucks moved back and forth to remove items and equipment. The documents were also burned. China reacted angrily and ordered the US Consulate in Chengdu to be closed. In a statement, the Chinese government spoke of a “legitimate and necessary response” to the US decision to close the Chinese consulate in Houston. “We urge the United States once again to immediately rescind this wrong decision and create the necessary precondition to put the bilateral relations back on the right track,” he added.
Espionage and theft
Today, the administration of US President Donald Trump provided more information on the background to the measure. The United States knows diplomatic missions are involved in stealing information and other harmful activities, but the Consulate in Houston would have been furious and crossed the line.
For example, a man from Singapore has confessed to spying for China in the United States, according to reports by the US Department of Justice. The man, John Wei You, also known as Dickson Yu, made contact with Americans who might be of interest through political consultations, according to the department. Through them, he collected information that he passed on to Chinese intelligence. He pleaded guilty to a case in which he was accused of illegal activities as a foreign agent.
Chinese students and researchers are said to have been sent from the mail to steal data. A US intelligence officer said that the consulate’s collectors of information and technology were “particularly aggressive and successful.”
China has several consulates and an embassy in the United States. Since then, a Chinese investigator has been arrested hiding in her country’s diplomatic center in San Francisco and is likely to appear in court on Friday. It was alleged that she had lied about her ties to the Chinese military when she applied for a visa.
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