After the US government ordered to close China’s consulate in Houston Texas, a group of men were seen accompanied by US State Department official to forcibly open the building’s back door. According to an international media agency, shortly after the US government order that took effect at 4 PM (central time), the group was spotted outside the consulate including a man who seemed to be State Department’s senior official for foreign missions, Cliff Seagroves. Even though the group did not respond to the reporters outside the building about their activity, pictures emerged on social media showing the men prying open a rear door and going inside.
This comes after a senior US government official announced in a press briefing that even though consulates are base of operations for the foreign governments in the US, some can be used for exploitation and ‘espionage activities’. The official also said, “The Houston consulate was also implicated in an investigation of grant fraud at a Texas research institution. Consulate officials were directly involved in communications with researchers and guided them on what information to collect.” However, the US government order of closing one of the six Chinese missions has been severely criticised by China who reportedly said that “malicious slander” was behind it.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the order to close the consulate “violates international law and basic norms governing international relations,” and “seriously undermines China-U.S. relations.” He told the reporters that “this is breaking the bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American people”. Meanwhile, according to the witnesses of international media agency, the consulate staff had left the building after the order came into after at 4 PM (central time) after which the door was forced open.
As the tensions between US-China have grown more intense with the closure of Houston consulate citing fears of espionage, a Singaporean man has reportedly pleaded guilty to spying for the Chinese intelligence in the United States. The US Department of Justice said in a statement released on July 24 that Jun Wei Yeo, also known as Dickson Yeo “entered a plea of guilty today to one count of acting within the United States as an illegal agent of a foreign power without first notifying the Attorney General”. According to Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's National Security Division John C. Demers, it is another instance of Chinese government ‘exploiting the openness of US society’.
John C. Demers said, “The Chinese Government uses an array of duplicity to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting Americans. Yeo was central to one such scheme, using career networking sites and a false consulting firm to lure Americans who might be of interest to the Chinese government. This is yet another example of the Chinese government’s exploitation of the openness of American society.”