China now promises to retaliate after the United States government orders the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston on July 22, Wednesday. It seems to be yet another matter of tension between the two powerful countries. The Chinese government is now triggered and is gearing up for a reciprocation. According to a spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of China, Wang Wenbin, the US officials informed them on July 21, Tuesday that they have to close down the consulate within 72 hours of the notice. During a daily news briefing, Wenbin said that the notice was an unprecedented application. Moreover, he said that China will not take this lightly, a will react with stern countermeasures lest the US Government revokes the decision.
On the other hand, Morgan Ortagus, the Spokesperson of the US State Department justified the closure notice. He said that the step was just an initiative to protect the intellectual property and private information of America. Ortagus added that it was beyond the tolerance of the United States that the POC will constantly violate the intimidation and sovereignty of the people in the US. Besides, the US does not usually take such a strong step to close down the consulate of a country so randomly.
The questioning sessions
In this context, Mike Pompeo, the State Secretary of the US refused to express an opinion. The media tried to question him during a news briefing in Copenhagen. Pompeo was there to attend a meeting with Danish officers. However, he did not comment on the reason that led to the government of the US to reach such a decision. Instead, Mike Pompeo started accusing the Chinese government of stealing the vital intellectual property of America.
Apart from this, he also brought up the incident of the Chinese hackers who were caught by the Department of Justice of America. They are accused of hacking the trade secrets of several global organizations. Furthermore, they are also responsible for triggering in several American companies who are working on the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Both President Trump and State Secretary Pompeo says that they will not tolerate these acts anymore. Therefore, they have taken a stern action to close down the Chinese consulate at Houston. However, Pompeo still does not want to comment on the status of the spying accusation. He has also refused to answer the question of whether the hacking incident is the sole reason for the consulate closure decision.
Chinese Consulate-diplomat agency or a spy organization?
Sen. Marco Rubia, the Chairperson of the Senate Select Committee tweeted recently about the Houston Consulate of China being a major spy organization. Therefore, according to his team of Intelligence officers, the decision of closure was long due. He adds that the Houston office is originally a spying branch of China that works with the face of a diplomatic facility. Rubia is confident that the office is the central zone of the wide network of influence operations and spies that work for the Communist Party of China. On the other hand, the drastic decision of the US seems to be the escalation point in the already existing tensions between China and the USA. An expert on China with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, Scott Kennedy has the same opinion too.
Kennedy’s analysis says that the decision of the Trump government is indeed unprecedented. Plus, what happened on July 21, Tuesday is a repetition of an important historical incident. We must look back to 2016, during the rule of President Barrack Obama. During then, he took the strong step of closing down two compounds of Russia. It was then retaliation against Moscow for interfering in the Presidential elections. There is a surprising fact that Kennedy adds. It is that every country including the US indulges in general spying and intelligence activities. All of it happens from offices that are in other countries. However, the mystery lies in the fact whether the Chinese consulate in Houston was crossing the general mark and indulging in extra spying activities.
The decision is baseless and erratic
On the other hand, the chief Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner has another opinion about the incident. He is now questioning whether Trump’s decision will have an actual impact on China’s malign plans regarding the USA. Warner terms the decision as hasty and erratic, and an incorrect approach in the process of tackling the Chinese aggression. He believes that the notice of closure will not affect the threatening nature of China.
Mark Warner is hopeful that the Chinese Communist Party will take this as a strong threat. It can also act like a signal for the Chinese to understand that the further consequences will be even worse. Warner believes that the Trump government will now become more active and come up with more thoughtful and smarter policies. He feels that indulging in intermittent trade wars, and escalatory actions are just of no use. Instead, it is like the USA is praising the pattern of the Chinese authoritarian regime.
While Wang says that the consulate is still working normally, the local Texas media in Houston says otherwise. They are reporting of a fire inside the consulate, and a strong smell of paper burning. They are assuming that documents are being burnt inside the consulate campus. However, it is still not clear whether the media is just assuming or they were allowed to enter the premises. The Chinese Consulate office was not available for further comments regarding this matter.
Everything is normal
On the other hand, Rubio, in an interview with FOX NEWS, says that he feels otherwise. According to him, there is nothing abnormal about a consulate office burning documents. It is a part of the process before a closure. Rubio says that if an American consulate is about to close down, the Marines have the responsibility of burning down documents. They will also destroy computers and every other possible source of information.
Rubio also seems ready for a retaliation from the Chinese government. In that case, he is expecting them to close down one of the American consulates present in China. However, according to President Donald Trump, the burning of documents seems a bit abnormal. He is suspecting that the Chinese embassy officials are trying to burn down information that they have gathered wrongfully. Such papers may contain stolen information about the development of vaccines to control the pandemic.