US gives China 72 hours to shut down its Houston consulate

China said Wednesday that the US has ordered it to close its consulate in Houston in what an official called an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage China-US relations. Hu Xijin, Editor-in-chief of China’s state-run Global Times in a tweet said: “The US asked China to close Consulate General in Houston in 72 hours. This is a crazy move.”

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin condemned the action, which comes as tensions rise between the world’s two largest economies. He warned of firm countermeasures if the US does not reverse its decision.

‘Abolish erroneous decision’
“The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China,” Wang said at a daily news briefing.

“It is a grave violation of the international law, the key regulations related to international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the US. China firmly condemns this revolting and unjustified move, undermining the Chinese-US relations… China calls on the US to immediately abolish this erroneous decision.” There was no immediate confirmation or explanation from the US side.

Fire at consulate
Media reports in Houston said authorities had responded to reports of a fire at the consulate. Witnesses said that people were burning paper in what appeared to be trashcans.

Police and fire officials responded immediately to reports that documents were being burned in the courtyard of the consulate just after 8 pm on Tuesday, the Houston Police Department said. Dozens of first responders arrived at the scene but they didn’t go into the property. Under international convention, the consulate is considered Chinese territory.

A police source told local media that the consulate and a compound on Almeda Road, where many employees of the consulate live, are being evicted by 4 pm on Friday.

Time (on July 10) by which consulate has to be shut

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