With Trump administration imposing the closure of China’s Houston consulate, China counteracts with a retaliation threat of shutting U.S. consulate. The relations between the world’s largest economies, China and the US, have been deteriorating significantly and this is another addition to the list of discords.
China’s Take on Shutting Down of Houston Consulate
According to China’s foreign minister, this decision of China is a totally licit and vital response to the US’s groundless act. However, China does not wish to see such conflicting relations to build up further. They hold the US responsible for the entire strife and is urging them again to withdraw their unjust order.
Before tossing this threat, however, China did warn the US to revoke its decision of vacating Houston consulate. They issued a 72-hour notice with a warning that said they would retaliate if the decision is not reconsidered. This US move, according to China’s foreign ministry, violated the international laws and the standard norms of global relations. According to them, the decision is an ‘unprecedented escalation.’
Unless the US does not agree to restore the condition, the bilateral relationship between the two countries might not be revived.
Accusations posed by the U.S.
On the other hand, Trump’s administration accuses China’s consulate of unsolicitedly breaking into their confidential systems. According to the US, China even attempted to retrieve scientific data from the state, along with the Texas A&M medical system. The State Department of the US shared how Houston’s consulate was being used by China for undercover spying and influence operations.
After the closure of the Houston consulate, the US authorities warned that such illicit activities and violations of PRC would not be entertained. President Trump states that they will abstain from any unfair practices, be it trade, job theft, or other such acts. He emphasizes on a transparent reciprocation in their dealings.
Although in response to this, the Chinese Embassy in Washington called these accusations false and baseless fabrications.
Importance of the Chengdu Consulate
This verdict of Beijing will not just expel the American diplomats from Sichuan but will leave a much severe impact. Chengdu consulate is considered essential to the U.S. as it covers Chongqing, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Guizhou too. It has been serving as a key opening that allowed follow-ups on the activities of Tibet and other internal dissents.
So, the closing of this mission will inhibit the US from tracking the developments of strategic weapons as well. This move will have a much harsh impact as compared to closing Wuhan’s consulate. Thus, as a response to the US move, instead of Wuhan, China sought to shut down the Chengdu consulate.
Though the closure of Chengdu is less impactful than that of Shanghai or Hong Kong, it is still significant enough.
As the Foreign Ministry spokesman of China accused the US of national security breaches and inconsistent activities, consequences followed. This further led to the great fall in the US stocks for a consequent day. The drop is claimed to be the largest since the year 2011. Moreover, China’s stocks also witnessed a hard hit, which is considered to the highest since February.
Wang Yiwei, a former diplomat from China, stated that Beijing’s move is not equivalent to the closure of Houston’s consulate. According to him, an equally challenging action has not yet been taken to avoid damaging bilateral US-China relations much. He also shared that the operations carried out at Chengdu were not as high-profile when compared to Shanghai.
This is claimed to be a clear sign of China’s hope for the revival of reciprocity and restoration of international relations.
Since the trade war and the covid-19 pandemic, the tensions between the giant economics have been escalating. US President Trump had imposed strict visa restrictions on Chinese students, graduates, and journalists. In response to which, China also ousted US journalists from major agencies.
Also, some recent developments of fraud, hacking, and criminal charges against some Chinese people have caught fire. In addition to these, now the closure of both Chengdu and Houston marks the exceedingly deteriorating international relations.
Hours before the release of Beijing’s orders, the U.S. Secretary of State addressed the current situations. In his speech, he said that, if the world wants a free 21st century and not Chinese Dominance as Xi Jimping wishes of, a substantial change is essential. The prevalent ordeals of blind trust and engagement with China won’t be helpful anymore.
On the other hand, China still urges the US to restore the previous settings to revive bilateral relations.