China says closure of Houston consulate part of Trump election campaign

China’s consulate in Houston
People attempt to talk to someone at the Chinese consulate in Houston on July 22, 2020. – US-Chinese tensions, already rising because of the coronavirus pandemic and crackdown in Hong Kong, ratcheted up another notch on Wednesday as the US ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston within 72 hours. China reacted angrily to the US move, which came a day after the unveiling of a US indictment of two Chinese nationals for allegedly hacking hundreds of companies worldwide. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. shutdown of China’s consulate in Houston was an attempt by Donald Trump to blame Beijing for his failures ahead of presidential elections in November.

Several Chinese state media canvassed this viewpoint in editorials published today.

The U.S. 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 U.S. and calls by U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, for a new global coalition against Beijing.

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China’s embassy to the U.S. 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’’.

The official English-language newspaper China Daily described the move as “a new gambit in the U.S. administration’s bid to paint China as a malevolent actor on the world stage and thus make it an outlaw to the international community’’.

“The move shows that lagging behind his presidential election opponent in the polls… the U.S. leader is going all out in his attempts to portray China as an agent of evil,’’ it added.

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The Global Times, an English-language tabloid run by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, also accused U.S. President Donald Trump of playing politics.

“The November presidential election is driving Washington mad,’’ it said.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Washington accused the U.S. of “groundless fabrications” about the actions of China’s diplomatic missions and urged it to “immediately revoke this erroneous decision’’.

“It’s time to step on the brakes and return to the right direction!’’ the embassy posted separately on its official Twitter account.

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According to U.S. court filings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also alleging that a Chinese researcher accused of visa fraud and concealing ties to the military is now holed up in China’s consulate in San Francisco.

Other Chinese researchers at U.S. universities have also been arrested for visa fraud, the filings showed.

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