The U.S. directed the closure of the consulate on Tuesday. The Chinese government said Wednesday morning that they had been instructed to do so without warning, but Rubio claims the move was “long overdue.”
“#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue,” he said, describing it as a “central node” of the Chinese Communist Party’s spy operations.
“This needed to happen,” he tweeted.
China called the closure an “unprecedented escalation” by the United States and threatened to retaliate, according to the South China Morning Post.
“China demands the U.S. revoke the wrong decision. If the U.S. went ahead, China would take necessary countermeasures,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement to Fox News that the closure directive was issued “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
The U.S. “will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” she added. “President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.”
Documents were burned inside the consulate’s courtyard Tuesday evening, KPRC-TV in Houston reported.
“You could just smell the paper burning,” a witness told the station. “But, all the firefighters were just surrounding the building. They couldn’t go inside.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.