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China warns students in US to ‘be on guard’ over ‘arbitrary interrogations’

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China on Wednesday urged its citizens studying in the United States to “be on guard” for arbitrary interrogations and detention, hours after Washington ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

“Recently, US law enforcement agencies have stepped up arbitrary interrogations, harassment, confiscation of personal belongings and detention targeting Chinese international students in the US,” said a social media statement by the foreign ministry.

China also announced on Wednesday that the United States had been ordered to close the Houston consulate.

The State Department said Washington’s order to China to close its consulate in Houston was to protect US intellectual property and private information.

Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus was elaborating on the incident that has strained already tense relations between the two world powers, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Denmark.

Under the Vienna Convention states “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs” of the receiving country, said Ortagus.

The US would not tolerate violations of their “sovereignty and intimidation of our people”, just as they had not tolerated Chinese “unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior”, she added.

“We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information,” she said -- referring to the People’s Republic of China.

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