The Chinese Consulate in Houston was ordered by the United States on Tuesday, July 21, to close within three days, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has reacted with fury. In what it has labeled an “unprecedented escalation,” Beijing promised on Wednesday, to retaliate.

According to a senior U.S. official, The Washington Post reported that personnel from the embassy were buying barrels from a Home Depot store and using them to burn documents. “The Houston consulate is well known across the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement community for its malign activities.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in a daily news briefing that the CCP had no warning, and it had been ordered to close its Houston consulate. “China [the CCP] urges the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision, or China will definitely take a proper and necessary response.” The United States issued the order on Tuesday, Wang said, without elaborating. “The United States claims there’s an imbalance in Sino–U.S. relations,” he said.

“This is their usual excuse and it is without grounds. In fact, judging by the number of diplomats and diplomatic institutions delegated, the United States has a much bigger number than China.

“China demands the U.S. revoke the wrong decision. If the U.S. went ahead, China would take necessary countermeasures,” Wang said, reported the South China Morning Post.

The sudden order was to “protect Americans’ intellectual property and private information,” said Washington. The United States “will not tolerate the PRC [CCP] 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,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, citing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. “President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.–China relations,” she said.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, took to Twitter.

“The US asked China to close Consulate General in Houston in 72 hours. This is a crazy move.”