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Late Tuesday evening, The Houston Police Department said they responded to reports of smoke in the courtyard outside the Chinese Consulate, located in the city's Midtown area.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told CNN the consulate was told to close "in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information" but did not immediately provide specific reasons of what caused the decision. Chinese media reported that the consulate had been given 72 hours to close.
Between an ongoing trade war, the coronavirus pandemic, and US criticism of China's human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, relations between the two super powers have taken a turn for the worse.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefly addressed the closure while taking questions during a trip to London, England.
The State Department has not clarified what, if any, particular incident triggered the US demand to close the embassy or when it made that demand.
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