The United States ordered China to close down its consulate in Houston, Texas. The State Department issued a statement saying the decision was made "to protect American intellectual property and American's private information."
Chinese officials blasted the decision, calling it an "unprecedented escalation."
"China demands the U.S. revoke the wrong decision. If the U.S. went ahead, China would take necessary countermeasures," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
On Tuesday (July 21) night, the Houston Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at the consulate but were denied entry. According to KPRC, Chinese officials were burning documents in the courtyard.
"You could just smell the paper burning," a witness told the station. "But, all the firefighters were just surrounding the building. They couldn't go inside."
Video recorded by somebody who lives near the consulate shows people throwing things into flaming bins.
A police official told the station that the consulate building will be closed by 4 p.m. on Friday and that everybody living at a nearby compound will be evicted.
The move comes one day after the Justice Department filed charges against two Chinese nationals accused of hacking organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine research.
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