İrem UZUN -TDO- The State Department confirmed on Wednesday the U.S. has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, prompting Beijing to insist on firm countermeasures unless Washington immediately reverses its decision. The move is an escalation of political tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

In a statement on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the directive to close China’s consulate in Houston was made to protect American intellectual property and the private information of its citizens. The Vienna Convention says diplomats must “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State,” Ortagus continued. She added that Washington would not tolerate the People’s Republic of China’s violations of U.S. sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the China’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior.

In Beijing, the move was considered as “an unprecedented escalation” that will sabotage relations between the two countries. Spokesman for China's foreign ministry said the U.S. gave the Chinese side a deadline of three days to close the mission in the Texas city. "The unilateral closure of China's consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China," Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing. "We urge the U.S. to immediately revoke this erroneous decision. Should it insist on going down this wrong path, China will react with firm countermeasures," he said.

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