Trump Says “Always Possible” He’ll Shut Down More Chinese Consulates After Beijing Vows Retaliation for Houston Facility Closure

July 22, 2020.- US President Donald Trump said he could shutter additional Chinese consulates following the closure of a diplomatic facility in Texas, leaving the door open for further escalation as tensions soar between the two nations.

The comment came during a White House presser on Wednesday, following the State Department’s decision to order a Chinese consulate in Houston to shut down within 72 hours “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans,” according to a department spokesperson.

“I guess they were burning documents and burning papers,” Trump said, referring to the Chinese consulate staff.

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Beijing has slammed the move as an “unprecedented escalation,” accusing Washington of “harassing Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in the US” while vowing to respond with “firm countermeasures” if the decision is not reversed.

Earlier on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, said the country’s embassy in Washington, DC had received “bomb and death threats” as a result of “smears and hatred fanned up by the US [government].” She went on to condemn the “erroneous decision” to shutter the Houston consulate, also warning of retaliation from Beijing.

Beijing in recent months, with the US launching a rhetorical and policy offensive targeting alleged rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, as well as China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In that time, the Trump administration has enacted a steady stream of sanctions, aggressive legislation and hostile moves toward Chinese diplomats and media, in some cases triggering retaliation from Beijing. The US military also continues to carry out ‘freedom of navigation’ missions in the South and East Chinese Seas, fielding an arsenal of naval assets and air power into Beijing’s backyard, moves repeatedly denounced by China as violations of its sovereignty.

 

Featured image: President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He during a signing ceremony for ‘phase one’ of the US-China trade agreement, January 15, 2020 © Reuters / Kevin Lamarque

(RT)