- David Stilwell, the top East Asia official at the US State Department, offers the most detailed explanation yet about why the consulate was ordered closed
- Stilwell also accused China’s consul general in Houston and other diplomats there of having recently used false identification at the city’s airport
China’s Houston consulate is the “epicentre” of efforts by the Chinese military to send students to the US to obtain information that could advance its warfare capabilities, a top US diplomat said on Wednesday in the most detailed explanation so far for the Trump administration’s abrupt decision to order the diplomatic outpost’s closure.The US government ordered China to close the consulate on Tuesday, provoking outrage from Beijing and prompting diplomats to begin burning documents in the building’s courtyard. Previous statements issued by the State Department spoke only in broad terms about China’s alleged violation of US sovereignty and intimidation of Americans.That changed on Wednesday morning, when David Stilwell, the top East Asia official at the State Department, singled out the consulate in Houston in a New York Times interview as having “a history of engaging in subversive behaviour”.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been “sending students both overtly and otherwise to American universities to study things to advance their own warfare advantages in the economic world and the rest”, said Stilwell, adding that “at the epicentre of all these activities facilitated by the [People’s Republic of China] mission is this consulate in Houston”.