We’ll React With Firm Countermeasures, China Assure
The Chinese authority has called the decision of the US government to close Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas “an unprecedented escalation”, saying it violated international law. Mr Wang went on to say Washington had been “shifting the blame to China with stigmatisation and unwarranted attacks”.
He urged the US to reconsider, saying if it insists “on going down this wrong path, China will react with firm countermeasures”.
“In reality, in terms of the number of Chinese and American embassies and consulates in each other’s countries and the number of diplomatic and consular staff, the US has far more people working in China,” Mr Wang said.
Chinese state media the Global Times began running a poll on which US consulate to close in response.
This is clearly a significant development in the diplomatic sparring between Washington and Beijing.
The closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston comes soon after news emerged of the unsealing of a US indictment against two men accused of spying on US vaccine development on behalf of China’s security services. It is not clear if the two episodes are linked. But it is clear that the Trump administration is determined to step up its very public calling out of Beijing.
In the midst of a presidential re-election campaign and with the US economy and society battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Trump has determined that there is political advantage in playing the China card.
It is hard to see how Beijing can avoid some equivalent response. The danger now is of a spiralling tit-for-tat battle, driven in part by US domestic considerations, which can only make the complex and developing tensions between the US and China even worse.