Papers are reportedly being burned in open containers outside of the Chinese consulate in Houston, as tensions between China and the United States continue to rise.
According to Bloomberg, the consulate had recently been ordered to close by the U.S. government after there had been reports that officials from the Middle Kingdom were using the facility for espionage purposes.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin blasted both the move and the claims, calling it an “unprecedented escalation” and warning that China would be forced to “react with firm countermeasures” if the decision were not reversed.
Some backlash against the United States has already occurred, with the American embassy in Wuhan ordered to shut down in a measure many have seen as a tit-for-tat. The choice of the Wuhan location is of note as the city is where the novel coronavirus was first discovered, and rumors have swirled that the disease, which so far has infected 15 million people around the globe and claimed 617,000 lives, might have originated in a laboratory.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was clear in his assessment of the consulate situation.
“We are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave and when they don’t we’re going to take actions that protect the American people,” he said during a trip to Denmark.
The State Department echoed similar claims, citing national security concerns that sought “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
Foggy Bottom also appeared to accuse the consulate of meddling in “internal affairs” in the country, following claims that part of the Chinese consulate’s mission was to sow discord throughout the United States, such as by aggravating race relations.
After the announced closure of the Chinese consulate in America’s fourth largest city, The Houston Chronicle reported that it appeared documents from the facility were being burned en masse, necessitating a response from emergency services.
NEW VIDEO: Documents, other materials appear to be burned in courtyard of Consulate General of China in Houston, Texas; police and fire responded but its unclear it they entered property
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) July 22, 2020
The event comes as relations between the U.S. and China remain incredibly tense. Just earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that two Chinese nationals were wanted for attempting to steal COVID-19 vaccine research.
In addition, President Donald Trump has mulled a ban of the popular app TikTok following the effective prohibition of Huawei products, including their 5-G network.
The U.S. is not the only country that is currently feeling friction with the Middle Kingdom. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, a major potential international conflict is brewing in Asia after Chinese and Indian troops engaged in a scuffle along a disputed border territory that killed dozens.