July 24, 2021

Despite U.S. demand, China refuses to commit to closing Houston consulate

The head of the Chinese Consulate in Houston won’t commit to closing the office — a direct threat of defiance to the State Department’s demand that it be shut down by Friday.

In a wide-ranging interview with POLITICO, Cai Wei, the Chinese Consul General in Houston, said China is protesting the closure order and his office will remain open “until further notice.”

“Today we are still operating normally, so we will see what will happen tomorrow,” he said, declining to elaborate further.

Cai said Beijing has asked the U.S. to rescind its Tuesday order to close the consulate, which China argues runs afoul of international agreements governing diplomatic relations.

“We think that the demand from the U.S. side … is not according to the Vienna convention on consular affairs and also is not according to international practice or [diplomatic] norms, and it violates the China-U.S. consular treaty,” Cai said. “We prepared for the worst scenario but we’ve also launched a strong protest … so we urge the U.S. to abandon and revoke that wrong decision.”

Cai’s remarks came as the South China Morning Post reported that Beijing is likely to close a U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, which is strategically important for the U.S. given its interest in Tibet. But the head of the Houston consulate declined to comment on how Beijing should respond to the order to close his office.

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