Press Releases

Trump right to shut Chinese consulate in Houston — it was a massive spying operation
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
July 24, 2020
Fox News
 
This week smoke billowed from the courtyard of the Chinese consulate in Houston as employees burned sensitive documents. Typically, consulates carry out services such as issuing visas and engaging in cultural exchanges. But the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) outpost in Houston was far from a typical consulate.
 
Instead, the consulate served as a front for the CCP and a central node in the massive spying operation that China uses to undermine the United States. This network carries out all sorts of espionage — political, defensive, industrial, academic, and commercial — to try to gain a strategic edge over the U.S. by cheating and stealing.
 

 
Critically, the Houston consulate covered China's activities in seven states, including my home state of Florida.
 
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The Trump administration’s decision to shut the consulate down is exactly right and sends a strong message to China, Russia and other adversaries that this illegal espionage will no longer be tolerated.
 

 
We cannot simply ignore the prolific increase of Chinese espionage and political influence operations, especially on American soil. Sometimes a hammer is required to send a message.
 
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The CCP is seemingly unable to conduct international relations without spying, especially on the people the party claims as its own, such as Chinese-Americans — wherever they are and in every facet of their lives.
 
Chinese espionage and data collection are evident all throughout their diplomatic corps — from excessive visa application requirements on Chinese Americans, to exerting control over Chinese community organizations, to pushing co-opted Chinese students toward sensitive research areas.
 
Chinese surveillance and influence operations can be pointed to different ends. Some influence agents are tasked with swaying members of Congress as well as state and local politicians under the auspices of diplomatic relations. Others steal commercial secrets from defense contractors or in important sectors like advanced manufacturing.
 
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By closing the Houston consulate, the United States signaled the status quo between the United States and China is unacceptable.
 
In the meantime, I will soon be introducing legislation to ban Chinese firms from American capital markets if those companies are found to have engaged in espionage or human rights abuses, or otherwise exist to bolster Beijing’s military.
 
It is in everyone’s interest for the United States and China to enjoy a balanced relationship in the 21st century. But that future cannot arrive until Beijing adheres to international norms and practices, and upholds its international commitments.