The State Department on Tuesday, sent a letter to the China Consulate ordering it to close within 72 hours, as it alleges that Chinese agents have been seeking to steal U.S. data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system statewide and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that the closure was “to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information. The United States will not tolerate (China’s) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated (China’s) unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” she said. “President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters during a joint press conference with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod that the U.S. is “setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave. When they don’t, we’re going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security and also protect our economy and jobs“.

Wang Wenbin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in a daily news briefing on Tuesday, “The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China”. He added, “China demands the U.S. revoke the wrong decision. If the U.S. went ahead, China would take necessary countermeasures”. He also warned the US of firm countermeasures if the decision is not reversed.

Wang accused the United States of imposing restrictions on diplomat last October and again in June and of opening diplomatic pouches without permission, confiscating items for official use. He also said that U.S. diplomats in China engage in infiltration activities.

Wang also went on to say, “If we compare the two, it is only too evident which is engaged in interference, infiltration, and confrontation”. He also said that the Chinese Embassy in Washington has received bomb and death threats, and accused the U.S. government of fanning hatred against China.

According to a Fox News article released today, “One major reason the Houston consulate closed, according to sources, as opposed to other Chinese diplomatic outposts, was because the CCP was carrying out threats and intimidation tactics targeting U.S. energy firms in the South China Sea“. The Chinese officials carrying this out, according to sources, were based mostly in the Houston consulate.

The State Department’s top East Asia official, David Stilwell, said in an interview with the New York Times that China has “a history of engaging in subversive behavior”. They have been “sending students both overtly and otherwise to American universities to study things to advance their own warfare advantages in the economic world and the rest”, said Stilwell, adding that “at the epicenter of all these activities facilitated by the [People’s Republic of China] mission is this consulate in Houston”. Stilwell also stated that the consul general Cai Wei and two other diplomats were found using false identification to escort Chinese travelers back to China. The Chinese delegation in Houston provided consular services to eight southern states in the US – Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida – as well as Puerto Rico.

Late Tuesday night, Houston Police and Houston firefighters were called to the Chinese consulate after reports of a fire had broken out at the building. Video of the staff burning documents surfaced on Twitter by local news stations.

Under international law, no one can enter a foreign consulate without permission. These foreign consulates operate under legal immunities.  This is not an unusual occurrence when foreign facilities are asked to close on short notice. In 2017, the Russian consulate in San Francisco was ordered to close and they too were burning their documentation.

On Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz gave compelling remarks on the Senate Floor about the increasing threat of China on the US, and the impact they have on our media and movies as well as our supply chain. House Representative Dan Crenshaw weighed in on Twitter regarding the move against China and the closing of the consulate in Houston.