By: Devika Kandelwal
August 4 2020
After accusing Chinese diplomats of aiding economic espionage and for attempted theft of scientific research, U.S ordered the closure of the consulate
After accusing Chinese diplomats of aiding economic espionage and for attempted theft of scientific research, U.S ordered the closure of the consulateAfter the Trump administration decided to shut down the Chinese consulate in Hoston, Texas on July 21, China vowed to retaliate. The New York Times (NYT) reported that hours after the decision was announced, consulate employees burned papers in open metal barrels in a courtyard of the Houston building, prompting police officers and firefighters to rush to the area. The Consulate needs to close by July 24, and the State Department said China was directing 'massive illegal spying and influence operations.' David R. Stilwell, who oversees policy for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, also said that Houston consulate had a history of engaging in "subversive behavior" and was the epicenter of research theft in the United States. NYT also reported on a seven-page long document compiled by American law enforcement officials and obtained by the news organization. The documents outline several F.B.I. Investigations linked to the Houston consulate, including 'attempts to illegally transfer medical research and other sensitive information from institutions in the area, recruitment plans to persuade researchers, professors, and academics to turn over tightly held study or data to Chinese institutions, and coercion of Chinese citizens in the United States whom the Chinese government has deemed as wanted fugitives to return to their homeland. In response, China's foreign ministry condemned the move on Twitter, saying its embassy staff in Washington had received death threats. Chinese state media outlet the Global Times began running a poll on which U.S. consulate to close in response. Beijing officials said the U.S. has far more staff at its missions in China than vice versa. The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.