China says the U.S. has ordered it to close its consulate in Houston in what it called a provocation that violates international law.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson says the U.S. has already demanded that the consulate cease all operations.
China strongly condemns "such an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage China-US relations."
Media reports in Houston say that authorities had responded to reports of a fire at the consulate, but were barred from entering the grounds.
Witnesses reported people were burning papers in what appeared to be trash cans, according to the Houston Police Department.
The U.S., in a brief statement, did not provide any details on why the consulate in Texas was targeted.
“The United States will not tolerate (China’s) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated (its) unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” said the statement, which was attributed to State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin condemned the action, which comes at a time of rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies. He warned of firm countermeasures if the U.S. does not reverse its decision, reports a Houston TV station.
“The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China,” Wang said at a daily news briefing.
Federal authorities have accused China of recent COVID-related hacking.
Yesterday the Justice Department indicted two Chinese nationals for hacking companies, coronavrius research labs, and defense contractors. Investigators also say they acted to benefit China's Ministry of State Security.