Foreign Policy

U.S. Orders China to Close Houston Consulate

from The Wall Street Journal,

Washington cites need to protect U.S. intellectual property and data; move draws condemnation from Beijing

The U.S. ordered the abrupt closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, accusing China of extensive interference in domestic affairs and intellectual-property theft, an escalation of bilateral tensions that Beijing called outrageous and unprecedented. The State Department, in a statement on the closure, accused China of conducting “massive illegal spying and influence operations throughout the United States against U.S. government officials and American citizens,” and said such activities have increased in recent years. The closure order, first made public by Beijing, coincided with Washington’s unveiling on Tuesday of indictments against two hackers in China. They have been accused of targeting American firms involved in coronavirus research and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in sensitive information from companies around the world while working on behalf of Beijing’s main civilian intelligence agency.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing the hacking indictments and U.S. jobs he said were stolen by Beijing’s policies, said China had been given clear expectations and that Washington would take actions that protect the American people when those expectations aren’t met. “President Trump has said, ‘Enough, we’re not going to allow this to continue to happen,’” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at a briefing in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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