The Global Times’ editor-in-chief had claimed earlier that Washington asked Beijing to close down one of its five consulates in the country, specifically, the one located in Houston, Texas. The Chinese Foreign Ministry later confirmed this report.
The United States has asked China to close its Passport and Visa Office at the China Consulate General in Houston, Texas, according to the Global Times editor-in-chief, as cited by Reuters.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed the development, saying that Washington had “abruptly” informed Beijing to close down its Texas consulate on 21 July.
According to daily briefing of Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, Beijing has strongly condemned the decision and called upon the US to rescind the move, while suggesting retaliatory measures in response, as quoted by Reuters.
Beijing currently operates five Consulates-General in the United States, including those in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC.
According to local KPRC 2, quoting the Houston Police Department, the police and fire officials responded to reports earlier about a fire being sighted in the courtyard of the Consulate on Tuesday night.
Reports suggested that the fire was the result of documents being burned in the building’s courtyard.
This video shared with us by a viewer who lives next to the Consulate General of China in #Houston shows fire and activity in the courtyard of the building.
DETAILS SO FAR: https://t.co/2cOeKoap96 pic.twitter.com/0myxe6HIlC
— KPRC2Tulsi (@KPRC2Tulsi) July 22, 2020
Commenting on reports about documents being burned in the consulate’s courtyard, Wang Wenbin said that the Houston office was operating “normally”.
The China-US relationship has plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, as US President Donald Trump repeatedly blamed the spreading of the virus on Beijing. US officials had said earlier that they were mulling over various options to “punish” China for the number of deaths which have resulted from the pandemic, including banning some of its most popular social media platforms, such as TikTok. However, according to China’s foreign ministry, the order to shut down its consulate was rather unexpected.