China’s consulate in Houston cleared out ahead of eviction

HOUSTON (AP) — Consular officials departed the Chinese consulate in Houston on Friday afternoon after the Trump administration ordered the facility to shut down.

Vans bearing diplomatic plates departed the consulate as the 4 p.m. Friday deadline arrived for the consulate to close. At that point, federal agents checked the locked doors of the consulate and a locksmith was seen working to crack the lock on one door.

Meanwhile, a small group of protesters gathered across the street and played a recording criticizing the Chinese government.

It was unclear at the scene if the consulate had been cleared of consular staff. A Houston Police Department spokesman referred all questions to the FBI and State Department, which did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The U.S. alleged that the consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

China called the allegations “malicious slander” and responded by ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in the western Chinese city of Chengdu.

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