Beijing has accused Washington of “provoking trouble” after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the country’s general consulate in New York is used for espionage, rejecting the allegation as “malicious slander.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin hit back at Pompeo on Friday, after the top US diplomat told the New York Post that Beijing was running a spying operation out of its New York consulate.
“Pompeo’s allegations concerning Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in the US and their staff are purely malicious slanders,” Wang said at a press briefing, insisting that Chinese staff act in “strict accordance” with international law and bilateral agreements between the two nations.
We urge the US to immediately stop smearing Chinese diplomatic and consular missions and staff in the US, stop gathering vaporous rumors and provoking trouble [and] earnestly fulfill its international law obligations.
Pompeo’s comments to the Post came just days after a New York police officer, Baimadajie Angwang, was charged with wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing an official proceeding while allegedly working as an agent for Beijing. The secretary of state said he believed other diplomats and “agents” would face charges in the future.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration slapped Chinese diplomats with new restrictions, requiring them to obtain official approval before visiting university campuses and hosting certain cultural events outside mission grounds. The move is the latest in a series of tit-for-tat actions taken by both countries, which also prompted Beijing to impose similar restrictions on US diplomats working in China.
Washington also abruptly shuttered China’s consulate in Houston, Texas over the summer, which Pompeo also accused of working as a “den of spies,” suggesting diplomatic staff posed a threat to US trade secrets. That move, too, triggered a response from China, which reciprocally closed an American facility in Chengdu.
“It hasn’t been long since the US unilaterally provoked an incident by flagrantly closing China’s consulate general in Houston, to which China has made legitimate and necessary responses,” Wang went on. “Now it is again slinging mud at China in an attempt to justify its wanton acts. This shows a guilty conscience trying to cover up the obvious.”
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has steadily ramped up an offensive on Beijing, taking aim at Chinese tech firms – including telecom giant Huawei and app makers ByteDance and Tencent – while repeatedly pinning blame on the country for the coronavirus pandemic. US military operations in the South and East China Seas, meanwhile, have spiked in recent months, with one incident in late August seeing a US spy plane flying into a closed military zone as the Chinese navy conducted live fire drills, which Beijing slammed as a dangerous “provocation” that could have led to “accidents.”
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