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Ties between the US and China go south when Trump closes the Chinese consulate in Houston

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WASHINGTON: In an unprecedented escalation of tensions with China, the Triumph The administration has ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston in 72 hours, with the consequent threat of retaliation from Beijing, possibly with the closure of the American consulate in Wuhan.
The shutdown came hours after President Trump again blamed Beijing for releasing the coronavirus worldwide, calling it a “China virus,” after which the State Department accused China of a “massive illegal espionage operation. and influence. ” A fire was reported at the Houston consulate when officials allegedly burned documents and files.
While it is not unusual for disputed countries to close consulates reciprocally (the US and Russia have, as have India and Pakistan), the decline in ties between the US and China has been precipitous. , after President Trump changed his mind about Beijing in good faith, although he maintained in the first weeks of the pandemic that China was a good partner that acted quickly and cooperated with the United States and boasted of its personal ties to Their leader Xi Jinping
In recent weeks, Trump and senior administration officials have accused Beijing of deliberately allowing the coronavirus to enter the world to destroy the American economy and weaken the country in an attempt to challenge its primacy, and as part of this strategy of doing aggressive military movements. in the Indo-Pacific region.
The administration is now targeting Chinese academics and students at the American academy, suggesting that they are part of a vast network of spies trying to steal intellectual property from the United States. The Justice Department indicted two Chinese hackers on Tuesday who authorities accused of trying to steal information about the coronavirus vaccine investigation.
Washington has also cracked down on Chinese media operating in the US, asking them to register as diplomatic entities as they are viewed as Chinese propagandists, and has threatened to ban Tik-Tok and other Chinese applications.
Chinese students (400,000), who make up the largest cohort of 1.1 million foreign students in the US, have felt uneasy and the administration is also considering banning travel for Communist Party members and their families.
“The People’s Republic of China has been involved for years in massive illegal espionage and influence operations across the United States against US government officials and US citizens,” a state department spokesman said on Tuesday, accusing China of “heinous behavior.” and warned that “the United States will not tolerate [China´s] violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people. ”
Several of Trump’s top cabinet advisers, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr, have made strong speeches against China in recent times, apparently following the example of President Trump.
The Trump administration has also demonstrated its weight behind India in its border clash after the China incursions, sending a group of exercise carriers in the Bay of Bengal with an eye on China’s depredations.
“The world’s two largest democracies: unmatched strength in partnership,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper tweeted Tuesday with a photo of American and Indian naval ships, adding: “We firmly believe that no nation can Or it must dominate public goods, and we will continue to work alongside our allies and partners to support a prosperous Indo-Pacific for all. ”

The spiraling downfall and crumbling ties between the United States and China have been as rapid as they are spectacular. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan were among the first to be invited by Trump to his Mar-a-Lago property in April 2017. Talking about a trade deal with China dominated the headlines for many months as Trump pampered Xi, and according to former national security adviser John Bolton, even going to the extreme of seeking Xi’s help for his reelection.
Then the coronavirus struck, and once it got serious, hurting Trump’s reelection hopes, he turned to China. American lawmakers have followed suit. “# The Houston consulate in China is a massive spy center, forcing it to close long ago,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio, calling it “the central node of the vast network of spies and influence operations of the Communist Party in the United States. ”
Video: United States Asks China to Close Houston Consulate



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