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 international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the US.”
“China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-US relations,” it said. “We urge the US to immediately withdraw its erroneous decision, otherwise China will make legitimate and necessary reactions.”
The statement goes on to say the US has been “shifting the blame to China with stigmatization and unwarranted attacks against China’s social system, harassing Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in the US, intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them without cause.”
It is unclear what exactly might have motivated such an order from Washington. Relations between the two countries 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.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Europe, where he has been rallying leaders on the continent to take a harder line with Beijing, and meeting with exiled dissidents.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the consulate was directed to close “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
The Vienna Convention states diplomats must “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State,” she said.
“The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s (People Republic of China) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in US-China relations.”