00:01 GMT15 August 2020
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    The Embassy of the People's Republic of China to the US said on Wednesday that Washington's sudden decision to close the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, was "erroneous" and "a political provocation unilaterally launched by the US side," pledging to respond.

    "We strongly condemn and firmly oppose the abrupt demand for closure of Chinese Consulate-General in Houston," the embassy said in a Wednesday tweet. "This is a political provocation. We urge the US to immediately revoke this erroneous decision. Otherwise, China will have to respond with legitimate and necessary actions."

    The statement notes that Chinese diplomats in the US "have been performing duties in strict accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations," calling the accusations "groundless fabrications" and dismissing the US' justification as "far-fetched and untenable."

    ​On Tuesday, the US State Department ordered Beijing to close down its consulate in Houston in 72 hours, with department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus saying the move was motivated by the need to "protect American intellectual property" and "private information."

    Unconfirmed rumors have swirled that Beijing may be considering shutting down the US consulate in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in retaliation.

    The embassy further notes that in contrast to Chinese treatment of US diplomats in China, "the US [has] imposed unjustified restrictions on Chinese diplomatic personnel last October and in June, unscrupulously and repeatedly opened China's diplomatic pouches and seized China's official goods. Because of the willful and reckless stigmatization and fanning up of hatred by the US side, the Chinese Embassy in the US has received threats to the safety and security of Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel more than once."

    "At the same time, the US side has more diplomatic and consular missions and personnel in China than China has in the US, another area where the principle of reciprocity is not reflected," the embassy noted. "The move of the US side will only backfire on itself."

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