On Tuesday evening, Houston, Texas police and firefighters responded to calls that smoke was seen rising from the outdoor courtyard area of the city's Chinese consulate. In footage aired by local TV stations, people were seen burning documents in trashcans set ablaze in the courtyard area on the consulate's grounds and emergency response teams were not allowed to enter.
It was made public that on Tuesday morning, the U.S. ordered China to close down the consulate citing continuous interference in domestic affairs and intellectual-property theft.
On Wednesday morning, China claimed that they were told to close the consulate without warning and responded to the move by calling it outlandish and unparalleled.
Through Twitter, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called the Houston consulate a spy facility and exclaimed that it was about time it closed.
In a statement on the facility's closure, the State Department accused China of engaging in “massive illegal spying and influence operations throughout the United States against U.S. government officials and American citizens." The department also acknowledged that the practice has escalated over recent years.
Earlier on Tuesday, Washington disclosed the indictments of two hackers in China. The U.S. government accused the thieves of targeting U.S. firms involved in coronavirus research in order to get ahead of the global race to find a vaccine, as well as stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in global companies' sensitive information.
China, as usual, responded back on Wednesday to the indictments and closure of the consulate with a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. The statement said “This is a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. China urges the U.S. to immediately rescind its erroneous decision, otherwise China will undertake legitimate and necessary responses.”
China's theft of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies around the world is nothing new. At an FBI conference in early February, FBI Director Christopher Wray told attendees that "the FBI has about 1,000 investigations involving China’s attempted theft of U.S. based technology in all 56 of our field offices and spanning just about every industry sector."
Prior to the conference, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, estimated that the theft of American IP by China costs U.S. firms “anywhere from $300bn to $600bn” a year.
The suspicious activities of some Chinese travelers is something that has come to fruition rather recently as well. Many in the U.S. intelligence community have cited spy activity.
Since 2018, four Chinese nationals have been arrested for taking pictures of military installations in Key West. In the most recent incident, two students attending the University of Michigan drove up to a guard post at the Naval Air Station, were told to turn around, but instead drove onto the restricted property. The were eventually found by installation guards carrying cell phones and a Nikon camera.
In 2019, two Chinese nationals were arrested and charged in separate instances at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Florida. One of the women were convicted of resisting arrest without violence after trespassing on the resort's property to take pictures while being told to leave. The other woman was convicted of trespassing and lying to the Secret Service.
The trade war between the U.S. and China includes provisions to keep the communist regime's illegal and unethical practices in check, but, of course, they don't abide by it.
Sanctions need to get tougher, and the U.S., under President Trump, needs to maintain its status as a country that will not back down from the pressures of the regime. Other affected countries need to also step up and become at least as vocal as America against China. U.S. businesses, and other global businesses for that matter, are being ripped off and slowly infiltrated and destroyed by the communist leadership. The Chinese Communist Party does not and will not play by any rules. It will do anything in its power to become a dominating force on earth - even if that means continuing to steal innovations and vaccines that aren't their own, with or without an agreement to stop in place.
They are an enemy. We've seen it with their intentional mishandling of the coronavirus. We've seen it with their currency manipulation. We've seen it in their reporting of riots across America. We're seeing it with their thievery and lies.
China needs to be held accountable.
Cover photo (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)