Trump Administration ordered the shutdown of the consulate that was ‘hub of spying’
U.S. officials pried open the doors of the Chinese consulate in Houston on Friday and took over the building shortly after Chinese officials vacated the facility on orders from the Trump Administration.
Federal officials and local law enforcement surrounded the Houston facility Friday afternoon as the Chinese officials moved out of the building that the Trump Administration contends was a hub of spy activity by the Chinese Communist Party.
Forty minutes after the 4 p.m. eviction deadline passed, U.S. officials broke into a back door of the consulate and a man believed to be a State Department official led the way of the U.S. takeover, the Houston Chronicle reported.
State Department emblems on their shirts stood guard. The Houston Chronicle reported that the local fire department entered the building, too.
Tuesday night, hours after the Trump Administration announced its directive for the Chinese to vacate, the Houston Fire Department responded to fires at the courtyard of the building — an apparent effort to destroy documents. Chinese officials refused to allow the first responders to enter to put out the fires, Fox 26 in Houston reported.
All morning Friday, consulate workers were spotted loading up two U-haul trucks and vehicles and tossing trash bags into a nearby Dumpster in an attempt to meet the U.S.’s 4 p.m. eviction deadline, the Chronicle reported.
Consular staff pack items into their vehicles as they vacate the Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston.
“We can confirm that the PRC Consulate General in Houston is closed,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News.
After the Chinese officials packed up and left, U.S. teams began to force their way in. After two hours of gaining entry, the government officials loaded into a van and drove away, leaving the Houston Police and security teams behind at the scene, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Police officers install barricades outside the Consulate General of China Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week called the Houston complex “a hub of spying and IP theft.” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the consulate was a “massive spy center [and] forcing it to close is long overdue.”
China called the allegations “malicious slander” and responded by ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in the western Chinese city of Chengdu.