ANKARA

China denied Monday that its staff at the consulate in Houston stole information from American companies doing COVID-19 research.

“US officials’ accusations alleging that the Chinese Consulate General in Houston undertook illegal activities have no factual evidence and are completely slanderous,” said China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin addressing a news conference in Beijing.

Last week, the US in an abrupt move asked China to shut its consulate in Houston — a decision US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said was taken because China was “stealing American and European intellectual property”.

In a tit-for-tat move on Monday, Beijing asked the US to shut its consulate in China’s southwestern city of Chengdu.

“China’s demand that the US close its consulate general in Chengdu and decision to take it over is a legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable practices by the US which abruptly ordered China to close its consulate general in Houston and forcibly entered the premises,” said Wang.

The US consulate in Chengdu was opened in 1985. It would cover consular affairs in several provinces including Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region that attracted attention of Chinese authorities many a times.

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