WHY They Burned Documents: U.S. Shuts Down Chinese Consulate in Houston, Charges of Spying and Theft of Scientific Research

Last night we posted that smoke was seen coming from the Consulate General of China in Houston. Local police and firefighters were standing by outside the building at 3417 Montrose Boulevard. Video showed people in the consulate's courtyard burning documents.

The reason: Yesterday, the U.S. ordered China to close the consulate before the end of Friday, July 24. Though not happy about it, China is indeed shutting it down — at least for now.
Today on Google Maps the consulate, also called the "Passport and Visa Office of China Consulate General in Houston," is listed as "temporarily closed."

Fox News:
In a statement sent to Fox News, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed the directive and said it was issued "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information.” 
The U.S. "will not tolerate the PRC’s 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," she added. "President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations."
KPRC reported that the consulate was ordered to close by Friday along with a compound where many consulate employees live, citing police sources. [full Fox report here]
The United States and many other nations have long accused China of being a thief nation, notorious for stealing commercial and military secrets, intellectual property, and research. Many nations engage in espionage. But, as Reuters reports, the Chinese have a special way of doing spycraft.

The New York Times (emphasis added):
On Tuesday night, hours after American officials delivered the shutdown order to the Chinese ambassador in Washington, consulate employees burned papers in open metal barrels in a courtyard of the Houston building, prompting police officers and firefighters to rush to the area, according to online videos and local news reports.
The People’s Liberation Army “has been sending students both overtly and otherwise to American universities to study things to advance their own warfare advantages in the economic world and the rest,” David R. Stilwell, assistant secretary for East Asia and the Pacific, said in an interview Wednesday morning. “We took a practical step to prevent them from doing that.”
“At the epicenter of all these activities facilitated by the P.R.C. mission is this consulate in Houston,” he added, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “It has a history of engaging in subversive behavior.” [full NYT article here]
A notice on the consulate's website says this: "The U.S. asks China to close the Consulate General in Houston Wang Wenbin: Strongly condemn, and China will make a legitimate and necessary response (2020-07-22)."

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