The Trump administration has pushed yet another sanction on the Chinese diplomatic mission via accusation of espionage and the demand to close down the consulate in Houston, Texas.
Washington has abruptly ordered China to cease its operations and close down the consular in Houston. The order comes amidst the accusations towards Chinese diplomats in aiding economic espionage and attempted theft of scientific data concerning the research into the novel coronavirus.
Beijing is dissatisfied with the way the US is handling this case and vowed to retaliate calling the demand of Washington purely illegal. It is worth noting that hours after the order came in, the Chinese consulate staff started burning huge amounts of paperwork in their own garden causing the local police and fire department to assemble at the building. However, they were not allowed inside and the garden full of open metal barrels kept burning until eventually, the fire faded on its own. All of this is a result of growing tensions between the two countries. The power struggle has become even more prevalent since the world was hit with the novel coronavirus, which resulted in the race towards the development of the vaccine.
It is yet to be known what exactly caused such a prompt demand from the US government towards China. The State Department has broadly outlined that China was directing “massive illegal spying and influence operations” from its Houston consulate. This is reinforced by the statement made by David R. Stilwell, who is an overseer of policies for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, stating that there has been a history of subversive behavior from this particular consulate. Mr. Stilwell himself didn’t give many details to support these accusations very broadly describing how the consul general, Cai Wei, who is the top diplomat as well as two others were seen to be escorting some Chinese individuals with fake IDs into a charter flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport on May 31st.
China can retaliate by forcing American casino brands out of Macau, a Las Vegas of the East, which is a gateway for lots of them into the Asian market. This is going to deal with a significant financial blow giving the ability to other smaller institutions to take place instead of American giants in the area. Finnish casinos are on the lookout for this event to happen actually. This is due to the fact that even though gambling is more or less legal in the country a lot of companies are trying to get an international audience and the Macau region is going to make a huge addition. Regional director of Spinia.com FI has come out saying that this may be a huge opportunity for them as well as other smaller casinos to step in and take over the market if the US companies are to be pushed out of the region. The financial loss is going to be huge as these companies are based in the US and pay a lot of taxes thus generating income for the country as a whole from overseas assets.
However, if the accusations are true, most likely nothing of this kind is going to happen as China will try to cover the story up and make it less relevant. Putting it under a spotlight by waging a diplomatic war is going to bring more eyes and ears towards the case outlining their wrongdoings. This is expected as the US State Department as well as federal and local law enforcement is slowly releasing more and more information concerning this case.
Mr. Stilwell, for example, has stated multiple times that the Chinese government has become more and more aggressive in their efforts to steal scientific information during the last 6 months strongly hinting that this may be related to the development of the coronavirus vaccine. It is also worth noting that David did not present any evidence to back up these statements.
A seven-page document has been released by the American law enforcement officials describing different FBI investigations that clearly link to the Houston consulate. The main points of discussion are attempts to illegally transfer medical research data from working laboratories and different institutions in the area, a plan to recruit more than 50 researcher professors and academics to leak confidential scientific information to Chinese institutions. It also involves coercion of Chinese citizens residing in the United States that have been deemed as fugitives by the government to return to their motherland.
Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is the one responsible for most of the aggressive pushes from the administration to set up very strict policies when dealing with China. He has stated at a news conference in Copenhagen that the administration is trying to set up specific guidelines on how China is going to behave and if they do not cooperate then the US is ready to “Take actions” and protect its interests. This notion has also been supported by the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, who came out saying that “it is always possible” that the US is going to shut down more Chinese missions.
The deputy director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department of China and as well as a diplomat and a spokesman of China, Wang Wenbin, has responded to the actions of the US stating that the US is fabricating the accusations and has no legal grounds to shut down the consulate and warned that China is going to have a necessary reaction hinting that they would at the very least try to close down American consulate in China.