China Threatens to Retaliate After US Orders Closure of Houston Consulate
China threatens to retaliate after US ordered closure of its consulate in Houston, Texas; some lawmakers say consulate was center of massive espionage operation #China #houstonconsulate #UnitedStates #espionage #Intellectualproperty
The diplomatic crisis between China and the United States is deepening.
Staff at the US consulate in Chengdu, China, are leaving after Beijing ordered its closure.
It is in response to the US ordering the closure of China's consulate in Houston, Texas.
Al Jazeera's Katrina Yu reports. China has ordered the closure of the US consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu, in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries.
China said the move was in response to the US closing its consulate in Houston, and accused staff in Chengdu of meddling in its internal affairs.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US decision was taken because China was "stealing" intellectual property.
Tensions have been rising between the US and China over several key issues.
President Donald Trump's administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China's imposition of a controversial new security law in Hong Kong.
On Friday, Washington urged China to "cease these malign actions rather than engage in tit-for-tat retaliation". US President Donald Trump says he plans to ban the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. US officials are currently looking into the possibility that China can access user data collected by the app. An outright ban would come as a blow to TikTok's millions of fans, but its exploding popularity has also raised red flags. The plan comes on the heels of tit-for-tat consulate closures in Houston and Chengdu. Is TikTok a threat to US national security? China has accused the United States of "bullying" and threatened to take "necessary" countermeasures after Washington banned downloads of the Chinese video-sharing app, TikTok, and effectively blocked the use of the messaging super-app, WeChat.
Separately, Beijing also launched on Saturday a mechanism enabling it to restrict foreign entities that it deems a threat to its sovereignty and security, in a development seen as retaliation to US penalties against other Chinese companies such as telecom giant Huawei.
The latest Chinese moves come as tensions with the US escalate on a range of issues from trade and human rights to the battle for tech supremacy.
In a statement on Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce condemned Washington's decision on Friday to ban TikTok and WeChat from US app stores, saying: "China urges the US to abandon bullying, cease its wrongful actions and earnestly maintain fair and transparent international rules and order."
Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett reports from Washington.