Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
Why did the US order the Chinese consulate in Houston to close? What did they steal?
Vince Dhimos Geopolitical Analyst at New Silk Strategies (2016–present)
Below is our translation of an article from Sohu 搜狐 (美为关闭中国驻休斯敦领馆编造理由，外交部：欲加之罪，何患无辞_美国) with my intra-textual notes in [brackets]. If you examine Western reports of US accusations against China and Russia, you will find that they almost never contain details of the accusations. This is a red flag that will be picked up by keen readers. For example, US lawmakers in 2018 banned the sale of aluminium products from Russian company Rusal based on accusations against CEO Oleg Deripaska, but admitted that the ban was based solely on suspicions but no proof. As a result, Rusal lost billions of dollars in revenues and US aluminium companies that relied on Rusal ingots almost went broke until the ban was eventually lifted months later! This is typical of US political allegations and we therefore need to take them with a grain of salt. The same pattern was followed when ex Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, England. There was no conclusive evidence, just the fact that the toxin was originally developed in the Soviet Union. But at the same time, there were Western governments that had this same toxin in their possession. Just the same, without proof, Russia had to endure sanctions that hurt its economy. And yet, how hypocritical, when you consider that the CIA has been assassinating inconvenient persons around the world for decades. The same is true of the allegation that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab. No one ever provided evidence but this allegation served the purpose of helping Trump garner votes in November and also helped both parties galvanize their gullible voters against the “enemy” China (the creation of an “enemy” is especially important this election year because neither party has any ideas for resolving the health and economic problems due to the pandemic! Westerners need to be extremely careful of US accusations against countries that US politicians are using as political punching bags, and they need to be careful when reading press releases about these accusations because the msm almost always accept the official politically tainted versions. The US elites think we are all stupid and we should be very angry about that.
As you read the translation, note that the main red flag is not what is said in the article but the fact that the Chinese viewpoint, as expressed below, has almost been completely expurgated from US media reports. In other words, we are not supposed to know that the Chinese even had a defence at all! That is like a judge in a court of law denying the defendant’s attorney the opportunity to present his case and stating on the record that there was no defence. This is a far cry from the much vaunted “democracy” for which the US is famous.
The United States fabricated reasons for closing the Chinese consulate in Houston
[Global Times Comprehensive Report] Why did the United States suddenly ask China to close the Consulate General in Houston before 4 pm on the 24th? How will China counter this? Will the relations between the two countries get out of control in the "tooth for tooth" confrontation? Since Washington unilaterally provoked the "closed library" conflict, international public opinion has been filled with all kinds of incomprehensible and agitated voices. Secretary of State Pompeo, Assistant Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific Affairs Stilwell and other US officials jumped up on the 22nd, groundlessly accusing China of "espionage", claiming that the Houston Consulate is the centre of action for China to steal US intellectual property. "The U.S. claims that the Chinese Consulate in Houston is engaged in activities that are inconsistent with its status. This is completely malicious slander." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin charged on the 23rd that the U.S. "closure" request seriously violates international law and basic norms of international relations. It seriously violated the relevant provisions of the Sino-US consular treaty and severely damaged Sino-US relations. "This is breaking down the bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples." Since the beginning of this year, the international community has witnessed the escalating provocations of the United States against China on issues such as the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the South China Sea, Hong Kong [I deconstructed the US hysteria over Hong Kong: Vince Dhimos's answer to Will the USA remain idle if China tries to swallow Hong Kong?, and Huawei [I showed here that the seizure of Meng Weizhou was illegal: https://www.quora.com/So-considering-the-recent-arrest-in-Canada-of-a-Huawei-CFO-it-appears-the-real-question-is-is-Canada-with-the-USA-or-is-Canada-with-China-If-youre-a- anadian-what-do-you-think/answer/Vince-Dhimos]. The comment that "the relationship between the two countries is in a state of free fall" is often repeated. Now, as Washington takes unprecedented action, this concern has reached its peak. "China-US relations have dropped to the lowest level since diplomatic normalization more than 40 years ago," the New York Times wrote on the 23rd. Many foreign media are calling the latest White House measures “reckless” and “excessive.” Investigating the reason, some analysts believe that this is the result of the combination of Trump's campaign strategy and the Cold War mentality of the China hawks within his administration. [It is not just the Trump administration. The Democrats are adopting an anti-China stance in their campaign rhetoric]
"If you want to add a crime, why don't you worry about it"
At the White House press conference on the 22nd, when asked if it is possible to close more Chinese embassies and consulates in the United States, US President Trump replied, "This is always possible." On the same day, Pompeo, who was visiting in Denmark, said that China’s actions in Houston had "widespread impact". "It was not only American intellectual property that was stolen, but also European intellectual property, causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs." "President Trump said 'enough' and we will not allow this to continue," Pompeo said. US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun said on the 22nd that the decision to close the consulate was in response to "a long-standing series of worrying issues" between the US and China. He accused China of "increasingly tough and provocative actions" for causing today's situation.
According to a 7-page document compiled by US law enforcement officials obtained by the New York Times, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) claimed that the Chinese Consulate in Houston tried to “illegally” transfer sensitive information such as medical research [in this time of pandemic, all medical research should be shared with all nations affected. None of it should be classified as proprietary. How can obtaining this information be a crime? The real crime is concealing this vital information, leading to excess deaths and infection, as the US is doing]; persuaded more than 50 people Researchers and scholars transfer their own research or information to Chinese institutions [but this was not coercion. If the scholars wanted to do this, then it is not illegal. Besides, I suppose these scholars were Chinese. If an American embassy tried to persuade a US scholar in another country to transfer his research to the US, would anyone complain?? I am sure this has happened]; coerce fugitives wanted by China to return to China [How is this wrong? Would anyone blame a US embassy if it tried to persuade fugitives wanted by the US to return to the US for trial? For heaven’s sake, the US coerced foreign countries to extradite Julian Assange even though no charges had been formulated against him!] U.S. Senator Rubio, who has always been anti-China, exaggerated on the 22nd that the Chinese Consulate in Houston is "not a diplomatic facility" but a hub for China to carry out large-scale espionage and influence operations in the United States. [Excuse me, but all major world powers — especially the US — try to influence people. So how is it wrong to do this just because someone is Chinese? As for the charge of espionage, note that no examples are given]
Stilwell also claimed on the 22nd that the Chinese Consulate in Houston is the centre of action for China to steal US intellectual property rights [Trump uses the expression “stealing patents” etc. This is a display of gross ignorance. A patent attorney would use “infringing on patent rights.” But where is the evidence?], and that this institution has a history of "subversive behaviour." However, the "New York Times" said that he provided few details to prove his assertion, and only mentioned one thing: On May 31, the Chinese Consul General in Houston Cai Wei and two other diplomats escorted Chinese tourists to the city with false identities from a charter boarding gate.
Regarding this matter, Wang Wenbin stated on the 23rd that Chinese consular officials had obtained prior approval from the US to enter the restricted area of the airport and used consular documents approved by the US State Department. This matter is legal, compliant, and there are many precedents. The US statement is entirely fabricated. [And this is a renowned US media outlet, not a Chinese source, saying this!]
"In fact, I have talked to the American media countless times about this issue. Unfortunately, maybe my voice is too small for them to hear." Consul Cai Wei gave a detailed response in an interview with the media on the 23rd. He said that the documents he used to send to the plane were issued by the U.S. State Department. At that time, a group of overseas students returned to China. The consulate gave them masks and protective clothing, and also copied a small card to tell them how to isolate them when they returned to China. Everything, including myself, has been screened."
In response to the US's unreasonable actions, Wang Wenbin said on the 23rd that China will make necessary responses to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests. The Chinese Embassy in the United States issued a statement on the same day and emphasized that the relevant US allegations are "if you want to add a crime, there is nothing wrong with it." In addition, in terms of the number of Chinese and American embassies and consulates in each other's countries and the number of diplomatic and consular personnel, the United States far exceeds that of China. "The U.S. should not shoot itself in the foot." The embassy reminded.
According to a report by Bloomberg News on the 23rd, the United States has an embassy in Beijing and five consulate-generals in mainland China. The number of diplomats is about 700. This number does not include the number of consulate-generals in Hong Kong. The U.S. Embassy in China has about 400 to 500 diplomats, while the Chinese Embassy in the United States has about 300 diplomats.