US orders closure of Chinese consulate in Houston, angering Beijing

US President Donald Trump

He said Chinese diplomatic personnel had been twice restricted in the US, without specifying how, in June this year and October last year.

Tensions have also flared over Hong Kong, where the USA has called China's imposition of a national security law on the region a violation of the "one country, two systems" agreement by which China was supposed to allow Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status to continue until 2047.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it would shut the consulate.

China says it has been transparent about the outbreak and the World Health Organization has denied Trump's assertions that it promoted Chinese "disinformation" about the virus. Beijing has pledged to increase imports of U.S. goods by $200 billion over two years.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the consulate was operating normally. The number of insulting mails received by the embassy also surged recently, said the source, adding the Chinese embassy and consulates in the U.S. have reinforced its security measures accordingly.

Houston media reported that documents had been burned in a courtyard at the consulate building.

The deterioration comes in the run-up to the November US presidential election, in which President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden have appeared to compete over who can look tougher in response to China.

China and the United States have clashed over pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, most recently Beijing's imposition of new security legislation on the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

"President Trump has said enough - we are not going to allow this to continue to happen", Mr Pompeo told a news conference.

He said China has reduced trade with North Korea and made efforts to urge Pyongyang to engage with the United States on a "diplomatic process to bring peace and prosperity to all who live on the Korean Peninsula". That's the actions that you're seeing taken by President Trump. "Officers were not granted access to enter the building", the police tweeted.

Due to the US's recent stigmatization and incitement of hatred toward the Chinese side, the Chinese Embassy in the United States has received bomb and death threats against its diplomatic agencies and personnel in the United States. The US government had been harassing Chinese diplomats and consular staff for some time, Wang said, and "intimidating and interrogating Chinese students and confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them".

Biegun added that Pyongyang's denuclearization remains an area of shared interest with China.

Chinese Embassy to the USA received a death threat mail on March 21 this year, the Paper reported quoting source familiar with this matter. Wang did not state what reason the USA had given for the consulate's closure. China wants to lift some sanctions, but the United States disagrees.

Accusing China of bullying smaller countries, US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper had on Tuesday vowed to deter against China's "coercive behaviour" in the South China Sea.

The spokesman threatened "firm countermeasures" from China if the USA did not withdraw the Houston consulate closure, without specifying what those measures could be.