NEWS: U.S. forces China to Close Its Houston Consulate in 72 Hours.

By Legal Wires 9 Minutes Read

(NYT)–The United States have granted China to close its diplomatic consulate in Houston within 72 hours. The continuous sourness in the relations between the two nations can be witnessed from such steps.

Consulates provide the same services and carry out the same official functions as the Embassy. Consulates follow the lead of the Ambassador in engaging local government, civil society and other organization to address Mission priorities. In many instances, consulates, because of their location within a country, may serve as the primary actor in achieving one priority or another. So, while the Embassy may place great importance on agricultural development, the real work with the local population will be done by officers in a consulate[1].

Consulates provide passport, birth registration and many others services for visiting or resident American citizens in a country. They also have consular sections which issue visas for foreign citizens to visit, study and work in the United States. Consulates work with U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies to combat international crime[2].

In addition to the above mentioned, consulates also perform the diplomatic function on the local level; they are there to promote political and economic relations, to inform the public at large, to promote the national culture, to help organize the diaspora, the expatriates and their associations and clubs, and to do a lot of other things[3].

The Houston police and fire departments responded to the reports of fire on Tuesday evening but did not enter the building, over which the Chinese have sovereignty.

Sovereignty basically means an authority where no foreigner can interfere or intervene.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commended the United States to reverse the verdict immediately. “Otherwise China will certainly make legitimate and necessary reactions,” he said, suggesting that China could, at a minimum, close one of the American consulates in China.

Mr. Wang called the decision unprecedented and unlawful under global law, and described it as the latest in a series of aggressions.

“For some time, the United States government has been shifting the blame to China with stigmatization and unwarranted attacks against China’s social system, harassing Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in America, intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them without cause,” he said.

Closing a consulate is indeed a serious matter, but it is not unprecedented in times of diplomatic tensions. The step taken by the United States Government is undoubtedly troublesome for the upcoming years. During the pandemic era such steps would create frustration among the nations and that is not good for world peace.

Earlier in 2017, the Trump administration had also ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco, along with two annexes near New York and Washington, in retaliation for Russian restrictions on the number of American diplomats in Moscow. Those moves stemmed from the furore over Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the fallout from which is still felt, despite Mr. Trump’s attempted outreach to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.

In addition to its embassy in Washington, China operates consulates in four other cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The effect of the closure on relations — and travel — remained uncertain. Consulates principally process visas for travellers visiting China; the Houston consulate handled those for the southern states, from Texas to Florida. Travel between the two countries has been severely limited in any case because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a manifestation of panic,” he wrote in a note posted on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform. “It seems that Washington has no bottom line.

Steven Lee Myers is the Beijing bureau chief for The New York Times. He joined The Times in 1989 and has previously worked as a correspondent in Moscow, Baghdad and Washington. He is the author of “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin,” published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2015.

The interview below clarifies the intend of the US administration[4]:

Q: What are all the diplomats doing during the closings?

A: What’s important to keep in mind is the difference between a temporary closing and an evacuation. When it’s a closure, like what we have this week, you’re not talking about moving people out of the country. The building is not opened to the public. But people are staying home, and in some cases, people continue to work at the embassy.

Q: What if an American citizen really needs help. Do embassies leave them out to dry?

A: If there’s an emergency, we’re not going to sit on our hands. If an American citizen gets arrested or, God forbid, is killed, we’re going to go into action. You’re not going to be able to just walk up to our door, but we’ll find a way to service their needs.

Q: The State Department says the security situation in the embassies is constantly being re-evaluated. What’s that process like at the embassy level?

A: A lot of decisions are being made. All over at every single post, you’re evaluating the situation. Emergency Action committees meet; the deputy chief of mission is there; they’re talking; they’re providing input. With so many posts being closed, these conversations are happening across the affected regions. There’s also a conversation in D.C. at State. These conversations eat up a lot of people’s time.… But everyone is asking the same question: When can we go back to normal operations?

The US administration verdict had earlier also shown its face in the same way by forcing the Russian Consulate to be closed in various locations. Such kind of act is merely an outrage against the diplomatic relations with the nations and can create vast conflicts between nations at an international level.

The decision taken by the US administration is nowhere healthy for the Republic of India.

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