News analysis

US' Chinese consulate closure a Trump re-election move: Experts

Beijing has vowed to retaliate but worsening bilateral ties not likely to spiral beyond control

People seeking to talk to staff at the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, when the US ordered its closure over commercial espionage and intellectual property theft from American firms and gave Chinese diplomats 72 hours to pack up.
People seeking to talk to staff at the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, when the US ordered its closure over commercial espionage and intellectual property theft from American firms and gave Chinese diplomats 72 hours to pack up. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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The US says it acted to shut the Chinese consulate in Houston because of commercial espionage and intellectual property theft from American companies, but analysts view the move as part of efforts to ensure President Donald Trump's re-election in November.

"I see this as an electoral move," said Professor Steve Tsang of the SOAS China Institute in London.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2020, with the headline US' Chinese consulate closure a Trump re-election move: Experts. Subscribe