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Sunday, Sep 27, 2020
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Chinese complains US ‘forced entry’ into Houston consulate after diplomats leave over spying claims

Beijing promises ‘necessary response’ after man thought to be State Department official enters when back door was prised open. Trump administration says diplomatic outpost was at the ‘epicentre’ of efforts to steal scientific research

China on Saturday protested against the “forced entry” into the Chinese consulate in Houston by US law enforcement agents after the diplomats were forced to leave over spying claims.

Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement that the US had no right to break into the facility and warned that Beijing will make the “necessary response”.

“The Chinese consulate general in Houston is a diplomatic and consular premise, as well as China’s national property. The US should not violate the premise by any means according to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the China-US consular treaty,” he said.

Wang said China is “strongly dissatisfied” and “resolutely opposes” the US move, adding that Beijing has lodged stern representations with the United States.

Earlier on Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported that after the eviction deadline passed, a man believed to be a State Department official entered the consulate, along with others, after a small back door was pried open.

The report said officials had earlier tried three separate entrances, but were not able to gain entry. Security teams, wearing shirts emblazoned with the words US Department of State, stood watch at the back entrance. The fire department also entered and exited the consulate.

Vans bearing diplomatic plates departed the consulate as the 4pm Friday deadline arrived. At that point, federal agents checked the locked doors of the consulate and a locksmith was seen working to crack the lock on one door.

Meanwhile, a small group of protesters gathered across the street and played a recording criticising the Chinese government. It was unclear at the scene if the consulate had been cleared of consular staff.

The Trump administration ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to shut down earlier this week, accusing Beijing of stealing intellectual property and claimed the consulate in Houston was the “epicentre” of China’s research theft.

Washington on Tuesday ordered the consulate to close within 72 hours.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin condemned the move as unreasonable and said the US move had seriously breached international law and harmed China-US relations.

The US alleged that the consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston.



The US Justice Department recently charged four people with visa fraud “in connection with a scheme to lie about their status” as members of the People’s Liberation Army while conducting research in the US.

The official said those charged represented a “microcosm … of a broader network of individuals” in more than 25 US cities who are “supported through the consulates here” and given “guidance on how to evade and obstruct our investigation”.

In a tit-for-tat response, Beijing on Friday ordered the US consulate in Chengdu to close and accused American personnel at the consulate of interfering in China’s domestic affairs.

In an open letter posted on the website of Chinese consulate in Houston, consul Cai Wei said the bilateral cooperation between the Chinese government and America’s Southern states would continue despite the consulate’s closure, and the Chinese embassy in the US will make “appropriate arrangements” in continuing such cooperation as well as consular affairs.

“The course of history may experience twists and turns due to the disruption caused by a small group of people, but the friendship between the Chinese and American people will not cease, the bright future of Sino-US friendship cooperation will be stopped by no one,” he wrote.




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