Chinese officials at the Chinese General Consulate in Houston reportedly rushed to burn classified documents on Tuesday evening after learning that the United States ordered them to “cease all operations and events” at the consulate over security concerns.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement, “We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s [sic] private information.”
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in the statement: “The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s (People Republic of China) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in US-China relations.”
China called the move by the United States an “unprecedented escalation” and threatened to “make a legitimate and necessary response” if the U.S. did not “immediately retract this wrong decision.”
The DOJ and FBI announced an 11-count indictment on Tuesday against two Chinese nationals and residents — Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 33 — for allegedly “hacking into the computer systems of hundreds of victim companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual dissidents, clergy, and democratic and human rights activists in the United States and abroad, including Hong Kong and China.”
“The defendants in some instances acted for their own personal financial gain, and in others for the benefit of the MSS or other Chinese government agencies,” the DOJ added. “The hackers stole terabytes of data which comprised a sophisticated and prolific threat to U.S. networks.”
U.S. officials said that the two Chinese nationals targeted 11 nations and tried to steal research from “companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, testing technology, and treatments.”
The news comes as the Trump administration is considering banning the Chinese app TikTok from the U.S. to protect the private information of Americans.
Earlier in the evening, the Houston Fire Department and Police Department responded to reports that items were being burned at the Chinese General Consulate.
“Police say a fire that was reported at the Chinese Consulate in Houston Tuesday evening was the result of classified documents being burned,” Fox 26 Houston reported. “Houston fire and police departments responded to the scene, but were not allowed entry into the building.”
Fox 26 Houston added that the Chinese officials were burning the classified documents because they are being evicted on Friday at 4 p.m.
This video shared with us by a viewer who lives next to the Consulate General of China in #Houston shows fire and activity in the courtyard of the building.
DETAILS SO FAR: https://t.co/2cOeKoap96 pic.twitter.com/0myxe6HIlC
— KPRC2Tulsi (@KPRC2Tulsi) July 22, 2020
The Chinese Communist Party is a criminal entity that is “pursuing a campaign of intellectual property theft, economic espionage, cyber intrusions that target businesses — big and small — all across the country and our academic research institutions,” FBI Director Chris Wray said last month. “And it’s everything from Fortune 100 companies to startups. It’s agriculture. It’s high tech. It’s aviation. It’s health care. As I said before, it’s our academic research institutions.”
“There’s no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to America’s innovation, to economic security, and to our democratic ideas than China does,” Wray told Fox News. “Just to give you some context for that. Just as we’re sitting here having this conversation, the FBI has over 2,000 active investigations that trace back to the government of China.”
“The FBI is opening a new counterintelligence investigation that ties back to China every 10 hours,” Wray added. “So you put some of those things – and that’s sort of just the tip of the iceberg.”
China’s criminal theft of American intellectual property is estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $600 billion per year.
Attorney General William Barr unloaded on communist China in a speech last week, stating that they were trying to “overthrow the rule-based international system and to make the world safe for dictatorship.”