Published on :
The United States gave Beijing three days on Tuesday to close its consulate in the city of Houston, one of the world’s major centers for biological and medical research, citing cases of espionage.
End of a diplomatic mission. The closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, supposed to come into effect on Friday July 24, would be “a message” to other Chinese diplomats to “stop” economic espionage activities in the United States, a senior US official said.
“All the activities of Houston consulate has largely crossed the line of what we were prepared to accept, and if we hadn’t ended it, they threatened to become even more aggressive, in Houston as in other Chinese consulates across the country, ”explained to journalists this official of the Ministry of Justice on condition of anonymity.
“At some point, you just have to say ‘enough’,” added a senior US State Department official. “Houston aims to firmly demonstrate that we are serious.”
>> Read also on France24.com: Closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston: Spy Case or Election Maneuver?
The United States gave Beijing 72 hours on Tuesday to close its consulate in this city of Texas, one of the world’s major centers for biological and medical research, citing cases of espionage. The move took shape Friday morning in front of the affected building in Houston. People were carrying bags in a moving van and throwing large garbage bags into nearby dumpsters.
A “spy hub”
This diplomatic mission was “a hub for espionage and theft of intellectual property. [par la Chine]”, accused the head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo Thursday, without however mentioning specific facts reproached to the employees of the consulate.
The Justice Department official confirmed on Friday that the closure was more the culmination of a process than a response to a specific case.
“We want to dismantle these activities in Houston and prevent similar activities by Chinese officials in other consulates,” he said. “Close the consulate in Houston and prevent these officials from moving elsewhere [aux Etats-Unis] achieves these two objectives, ”he said.