3. False: The Chinese Consulate-General in Houston has a history of engaging in “subversive behavior”. It is the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies and influence operations, and the epicenter of efforts by the Chinese military to send students to the US to obtain information that could advance its warfare capabilities. It has engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations.
True: Since its opening, the Chinese Consulate-General in Houston has always observed international law and US laws, and stayed committed to promoting friendship between the two countries. There are no spying activities or influence operations as claimed by the US. By fabricating such claims, the US is simply “measuring others’ corn with its own bushel”.
◆ China always pursues the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. Infiltration and interference is never in the genes or tradition of China’s foreign policy. Dedicated to advancing mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in the US abide by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral treaties and US laws.
◆ The Chinese Consulate-General in Houston was the first consular mission opened in the US following the establishment of China-US diplomatic ties. In the past four decades and more, it worked hard to promote friendship and cooperation between the two peoples, and enhance mutual understanding and all-round cooperation between the two countries in various sectors. While COVID-19 raged on in the southern states of the US, the Consulate-General donated masks to Houston and Harris County, actively facilitated anti-virus cooperation between China and the southern states, and assisted Shanghai, Shandong and Shenzhen of China in donating medical supplies to Houston.
◆ The composition and number of the staff at the Consulate-General in Houston was open information to the US side. It runs counter to the common sense in diplomacy to accuse the Consulate-General of being the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies and influence operations, and the epicenter of efforts by the Chinese military to send students to the US to obtain information that could advance its warfare capabilities. Such a claim is also very preposterous.
◆ Some staff of the US Embassy and consulates-general in China have been engaged in activities incompatible with their capacities, interfering in the internal affairs and undermining the security interests of China. The US Embassy often publishes on its website articles attacking China and China’s political system. It is reported that the staff of the US Consulate-General in Hong Kong met covertly with “Hong Kong independence” elements during the turbulence surrounding the proposed legislative amendments in Hong Kong to discuss US sanctions on Hong Kong, interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs. China has lodged representations on multiple occasions.
◆ In July 2018 and January 2020, the US side opened Chinese diplomatic bags twice without permission. This was a flagrant breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. It also grossly violated China’s diplomatic dignity and security interests.
Hence China’s diplomatic and consular missions lodged strong representations at the first opportunity. The US side did not deny what had actually happened, but kept exonerating its wrongful behavior with technical excuses in an attempt to shirk responsibility. The US behavior and response ran counter to international law and the norms of international relations, and therefore must be condemned. In addition to opening diplomatic pouches, the US side has since 2018 forcibly unpacked the office supplies of Chinese missions on at least 13 occasions.
◆ The New York Times questions the assertion that “the Houston Consulate-General had a history of engaging in ‘subversive behavior’ and was the ‘epicenter’ of research theft in the US”, and it believes that there is no evidence to support this allegation.
◆ An editorial of Houston Chronicle reads that China is the Houston region’s second-largest trading partner and it has benefited from having the Consulate-General in the city. For more than 40 years, the Chinese Consulate-General in Houston has served as a symbolic bridge, facilitating travel, trade and cultural ties between Houston and China. For decades, China has been an important trading partner of Texas in key sectors such as energy, oil, chemicals, science and technology, which will bear the brunt of the US move. The closure will also have a direct impact on passport and visa application in the regions covered by the Consulate-General, and will put a heavy damper on the desire of Chinese citizens to study, travel and work in the US. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was shocked by the US decision. He expressed his hope that friction between the US and China, whatever it may be, can be resolved peacefully and that at some point in time the Consulate-General will reopen.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was shocked by the US decision. He expressed his hope that whatever the friction may be between the US and China [it] can be resolved peacefully and that at some point in time the Consulate-General will reopen.
◆ According to US Congressman Al Green, communities of Asian Americans in Houston have already been discriminated against because of President Trump’s comments against China and their work and the safety of their families are under threat. The closure of the Chinese Consulate-General in Houston will make the situation worse. He called for not treating all Asian Americans as spies and fully evaluating the potential damage these words and actions may do to the American people and thinking more for their sake.