American officials pried open the door of the Chinese consulate in Houston on Friday and took over the building shortly after Trump evacuated the facility under the Trump administration’s order.
On Friday afternoon, federal officials and local law enforcement officers surrounded the Houston facility because Chinese officials moved out of the building that the Trump administration believed was the center of Chinese espionage.
40 minutes after 4 pm, according to the Houston Chronicle, the expulsion deadline had passed. A US official broke into the back door of the consulate, and a person believed to be a State Department official led the US takeover.
The photo shows federal officials and locksmiths attempting to forcibly enter the evacuated Chinese consulate. US officials have tried three other entrances but were unable to enter. The security team with the US Department of State logo on the US Department of Security stands guard. The Houston Chronicle reported that the local fire department also entered the building.
On Tuesday night, a few hours after the Trump administration announced instructions for the evacuation of the Chinese, the Houston Fire Department responded to the fire in the building’s courtyard, apparently destroying documents. Fox 26 in Houston reported that Chinese officials refused to let first responders put out the fire.
Throughout the morning of Friday, the consulate staff were found loading two U-shaped tractor trucks and vehicles and throwing garbage bags into a nearby garbage can in order to meet with the United States at 4 pm. The Chronicle reported that the deadline for relocation is.
After the Chinese officials packed up and left, the American team began to march. Two hours after entering, government officials boarded a van and drove away, leaving the Houston police and security team at the scene, the Houston Chronicle.
The United States alleged that the consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from Texas facilities, including the Texas A&M Medical System and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Houston complex this week as a “hub for espionage and intellectual property theft.” R-Fla. Senator Marco Rubio said that the consulate is “a large-scale spy center[,] it should have been forced to close long ago.”
China called these allegations “malicious defamation” and responded by ordering the United States to close its consulate in the western Chinese city of Chengdu.
American officials were found packing up and leaving the Chengdu consulate on Saturday. Thousands of people gathered to watch the Americans’ order to leave Beijing.
According to the South China Morning Post, three trucks and a bus were seen entering and leaving the American compound, while other workers walked with their arms full of boxes and documents. Reuters reported that the signs of the US consulate were removed, and the security measures outside the facility were very strict to prevent the consulates that were tit-for-tat from closing.