US stir to close Chinese consulate arouses int’l criticism


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BEIJING: The abrupt U.S. decision to close the Chinese Consulate General in Houston has aroused concerns and widespread criticism, with several scholars and experts describing it as a “dramatic step” to deteriorate the bilateral ties.
On Tuesday, the United States requested China to close its Consulate General in Houston, the first one set up by China in the United States after the establishment of their diplomatic ties.
“Closing a consulate is a very dramatic step that seriously ratchets up contention between the United States and China. It’s a very discouraging development and further evidence of the growing tension between the two countries,” Jon R. Taylor, political science professor and department chair at the University of Texas at San Antonio, told Xinhua.
Taylor said the move “should not be that big of a surprise,” as the current U.S. administration inclines to use “Cold War rhetoric and actions” in dealing with others.
The shutdown of the Chinese consulate “is self-defeating” for the United States, and is “a misguided election strategy” which “engenders greater animosity, a disruption in soft power relations, and unnecessary mistrust,” the professor added.
Italian news magazine Panorama said the move could be “dictated by electoral calculations” ahead of the 2020 presidential election, noting that neither candidate wanted to be viewed as weak in dealing with China.
Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, director general of the Institute of National Security Studies of Sri Lanka, said the move was “politically motivated”.
“Decoupling would hurt both nations and the entire world, especially at a time of human distress and the loss of thousands of lives from a pandemic,” Abeyagoonasekera said, adding that Washington and Beijing “need to find space to work together and strengthen the four-decade relationship.”
Professor Somadoda Fikeni of the University of South Africa said the U.S. move showed “another stage of escalation,” and the United State did not provide concrete evidence for closing the Chinese consulate.