A massive diplomatic face-off ensued after Trump led US government asked China to ‘cease all operations and events’ at its consulate in Houston which is located in the state of Texas.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has called this ‘unprecedented escalation’ in the recent action taken by Washington against China.
On July 21st, Houston fire department responded to reports of smoke in the courtyard outside the Chinese consulate in Houston’s Midtown area. Reports claimed that some documents were being burned inside the consulate compound.
U.S State Department asked the Chinese consulate to be shut to ‘protect American Intellectual property and Americans’ private information’, but refused to provide details as to what prompted the closure of the consulate.
Chinese media reported that the United States gave it 72 hours to shut the consulate. The closure of Chinese consulate in Houston can be termed as the latest effort by the Trump administration to tighten the reins on Chinese diplomats, journalists, scholars and others in the United States.
The relations between the United States and China have plummeted ever since the outbreak of coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan. President of the United States Donald Trump has downright blamed China for the outbreak of the infection which has claimed over 1,46,000 lives in the U.S until now.
Trump in one of his rallies in Tulsa gave the virus another racist name, terming coronavirus as ‘Kung Flu’. This apart from his calling coronavirus as Chinese Virus despite receiving flak from the media.
Just a day before asking China to shut their consulate in Houston, the Justice Department charged two Chinese men for allegedly spying on U.S companies involved in coronavirus research and trying to steal their data.
The two countries have clashed recently over trade, technology, a national security law imposed on Hong Kong and China’s claims in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, President Trump also ruled out the second phase of trade deal with China and said that the relationship between the two nations had been severely damaged due to China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration is also considering a ban on travel to the United States by members of the Communist Party and their families, a move that could affect 270 million people.
However, China has described the move as a ‘political provocation’ and has urged the United States to revoke the ‘erroneous decision’. China also threatened to react with counter measures if the U.S continued to walk down the same road.
It remains to be seen as to what kind of response the community nation would give to the U.S considering the series of provocations by the Trump administration.