By Moon Of Alabama
July 24, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - On Tuesday the U.S.
government ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate
in Houston, Texas. The move comes amongst a slew of
factless accusations of
Chinese hacking and
While Trump, like Biden, is using anti-China
propaganda as part of his campaign, the closure of the
Houston consulate has nothing to do with it. But U.S.
fail to mention the real and unreasonable motive
behind this move:
The United States ordered China to close its
diplomatic consulate in Houston within 72 hours,
dealing another blow to the rapidly deteriorating
relations between the two countries. China promptly
vowed to retaliate, calling the move illegal.
The State Department said the closure was made in
response to repeated Chinese violations of American
sovereignty, including “massive illegal spying and
The unmentioned reason for the State Department's
move is a squabble over virus testing and quarantining
of U.S. diplomats who are supposed to return to China.
In January, when the first outbreak of Covid-19
happened in the Chinese city of Wuhan the U.S.
evacuated its consulate in the city. In total some
1,300 diplomats and their family members were moved out
of China in January and February.
In June, after China had defeated the outbreak, the
announced that that it diplomats would return:
U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, “intends
to resume operations in Wuhan in the near future”,
Frank Whitaker, minister counselor for Public
Affairs at the embassy, said in an email to Reuters,
without giving a specific date.
But by then the U.S. had become Cootiestan while
China had defeated the virus. Chinese public health
officials insisted on testing and quarantining everyone
who entered from the U.S. to protect their country from
The State Department however
The United States has postponed flights for dozens
of American diplomats who had planned to return to
China later this month, after failing to reach
agreement with Beijing over issues including
COVID-19 testing and quarantine.
In a previously unreported June 30 email, Terry
Branstad, the U.S. ambassador to China, told the
mission staff that two charter flights for diplomats
returning to Shanghai and Tianjin planned for July 8
and July 10 respectively had been scrapped and would
“Protecting the health and safety of our
community remains our guiding principle and our top
priority in this unprecedented situation,” Branstad
wrote. “This means that flight plans will not be
confirmed until we have reached an agreement that
meets these goals.”
A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said there had been close communication
regarding the return of U.S. diplomats to China.
“The virus is still spreading overseas and China
continues to be under a fair amount of pressure to
prevent the import of cases from overseas,” the
spokesperson said in fax response to Reuters’
“The epidemic control measures for the
diplomatic corps in China are applied equally across
the board. China strives to preserve its hard-won
achievement in countering the virus together with
the diplomatic corps, and to provide good conditions
and a good living environment for everyone to work
and live in China.”
I have found no U.S. media which reported on this
diplomatic conflict. Only Reuters and Asia
Times noted it.
China's request to test and to quarantine for
fourteen days everyone who is coming from abroad is not
unreasonable. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
demand similar for people coming from Florida and
Texas. China has already had an expensive second
outbreak with several hundred of cases in Beijing that
was traced back to a visitor from abroad. It does not
want another one.
The U.S. says that its diplomats are immune under the
Vienna Conventions. But Chinese officials claim that the
virus is not a party of those agreements. They insist
that legal and disease immunity are
not the same:
While Beijing agrees that US envoys and emissaries
should retain their diplomatic immunity, China’s
public health authority insists no one is immune to
the highly contagious novel coronavirus, and that
the nation must not expose itself to the risk of
returning Americans infecting the local population.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian
said on Thursday that Beijing would accord courteous
and equitable treatment to all foreign
representatives. He also revealed that his ministry
had already “fast-tracked procedures” and helped a
“plane load” of US diplomats to return to China at
the end of May, without confirming if they had all
been quarantined upon arrival.
On his Weibo account, Zhao also took a swipe at
Washington’s call for China to be more hospitable,
saying if US President Donald Trump wants Americans
to feel more welcome elsewhere, he should “make
America well again,” alluding to the alarming
resurgence of the respiratory disease across the
But other posts on Weibo noted that when the
first batch of about 60 US diplomats flew into
Tianjin at the end of May, they were immediately
flanked by more than 150 paramedics in hazmat gear,
who whisked them to a fully-enclosed facility on the
tarmac to collect their saliva samples. These
Americans then spent more hours than their flight to
China waiting in a partitioned lounge before Chinese
doctors could given them a clean slate and allow
them to leave.
The squabble continues. The U.S. diplomats have not
returned and the consulate in Wuhan has still not
reopened. The U.S. order to close the Chinese consulate
in Houston is obviously an attempt to press China into
lifting its testing and quarantine demands for U.S.
falsely claimed that the Houston consulate was
ordered to close because of a fire:
That however turns cause and effect around. The
consulate in Houston
started to burn its confidential papers after it was
informed that it had to close within 72 hours:
The real motive for the consulate closure can be
discerned from the State Department's coded statement:
The "violations of our sovereignty and intimidation
of our people" are an obvious reference to the Chinese
demands towards arriving diplomats.
Closing the consulate in Wuhan will of course solve
the problem for the U.S. diplomats who left Wuhan during
the January outbreak and now expect to be allowed to
return without being tested.
That all U.S. media which I have read on the issue
have failed to mention the diplomatic spat about testing
should be of concern.
But it of course relieves them from explaining the
unreasonable behavior of the State Department which
demands that its cooties infested diplomats can return
to China without taking the necessary precautions.