China cites ‘malicious slander’ as US orders closure of Houston consulate
China said “malicious slander” is behind an order by the U.S. government to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, and maintained Thursday that its officials have never operated outside ordinary diplomatic norms.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the order to close the consulate “violates international law and basic norms governing international relations,” and “seriously undermines China-U.S. relations.”
“This is breaking down the bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American people,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.
The order this week to close the consulate, one of China’s six missions in the United States, is seen as escalating tensions between the world’s two largest economies while President Donald Trump steers blame and punitive measures against China ahead of the November U.S. election. Beijing has said it would take action in response, although Wang gave no details on Thursday.
Relations between the sides have nose-dived in recent months over the conronavirus pandemic as well as disputes over trade, human rights, Hong Kong and Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.
In its statement on the closing of the consulate, the State Department alleged that Chinese agents have tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system statewide and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Wang said there was no basis to that claim.
“This is completely malicious slander,” Wang said.