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China faces repeated espionage accusations amid closure of Houston consulate

HOUSTON – A video of personnel appearing to burn documents at the Consulate General of China in Houston Tuesday night spread like wildfire overnight.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican leader of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, had serious questions over what the cell phone video captured.

“It’s destruction of evidence. I think in a lot of ways an admission of guilt that they are burning all these documents. You know I would like to know what those documents held,” McCaul said from his Washington D.C. office.  

McCaul isn’t the only one to accuse China of making sinister moves against the U.S.

The incendiary actions captured by a Montrose resident in a neighboring building took place after President Donald Trump’s administration ordered the shutdown of China’s Houston consulate Tuesday.

McCaul believes the move is justified.

“They have been engaging in very subversive behavior and we are just now taking them head-on,” he said.

On the floor of the U.S. Capitol last month, Rep. McCaul referenced attempts by the Chinese government to steal a coronavirus vaccine from U.S. researchers.

Since May, the FBI has tweeted and issued press releases about China’s blueprints to infiltrate various economic sectors during the pandemic. On Tuesday, two Chinese nationals were federally indicted in Washington state for corporate espionage and theft. Channel 2 Investigates found that a Texas-based company is one of the victims listed in the 27-page indictment.

This also comes after U.S. Attorney General William Barr described China’s actions as an economic attack, in a speech last week.

“Chinese nationals working as employees at pharma companies have been caught stealing trade secrets both in America and in China,” Barr said at the time.

Steven Lewis, an expert on Chinese politics with Rice University’s Baker Institute believes the consulate’s shutdown has another contributing factor.

“Trade is definitely a part of it,” Lewis said.

While Tuesday night’s actions are what people are talking about, Lewis is looking ahead to China’s response. 

As simply puts it, “There definitely will be tit for tat.”