US orders closure of Chinese consulate in Houston

US orders closure of Chinese consulate in Houston

By James Griffiths, CNN

Updated 10:08 AM ET, Wed July 22, 2020

Pompeo addresses order to close China's Houston consulate

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a press conference and addresses the US closure of China's consulate in Houston, Texas.

Pompeo addresses order to close China’s Houston consulate

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Trump emphasizes importance of masks during WH briefing

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President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the briefing room at the White House on July 2, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a press conference and addresses the US closure of China's consulate in Houston, Texas.

Pompeo addresses order to close China’s Houston consulate

President Donald Trump posted this photo of himself wearing a mask to his official Twitter account.

See video of Trump just hours after mask tweet

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Hong Kong (CNN)The United States government has abruptly ordered China to “cease all operations and events” at its consulate in Houston, Texas, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in what it called an “unprecedented escalation” in recent actions taken by Washington.US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the consulate was directed to close “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information” but did not immediately provide additional details of what prompted the closure.Relations between China and the United States have plummeted in the past year, amid an ongoing trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and US criticism of China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.A spokesperson for the State Department said in a separate statement that China “has engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations” and that those “activities have increased markedly in scale and scope over the past few years.”Late Tuesday evening, police in Houston said they responded to reports of smoke in the courtyard outside the consulate, located on Montrose Boulevard, in the city’s Midtown area. Local media shared video of what appeared to be officials inside the compound burning documents.In a statement posted on its official social media, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the order to close the consulate was a “political provocation unilaterally launched by the US side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing interna

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