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'A base for spying in Houston': Sen. Cruz says more Chinese consulates may close in wake of allegations

China is Houston's third-largest international trade partner and total trade has nearly doubled in the last decade.

HOUSTON — The United States consulate in Chengdu, China officially closed Sunday. China's decision to shut down the consulate was made in retaliation for last week's eviction of diplomats from the China Consulate General in Houston.

Friday was the move-out day for the consul general and staff who are accused of participating in foreign espionage at the Houston location. The U.S. Department of State claimed the consulate in Houston was a hub for Chinese spies.

Officials alleged the spies stole medical research from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas A&M medical system. Chinese officials denied the claims.

During a Sunday morning interview with CBS's Face the Nation, Sen. Ted Cruz said there may be more Chinese consulates closing in the future.

"They may well be closed," Cruz said. "That consulate was closed, because that consulate, they used it as a base for spying in Houston and throughout the Southwest.”

The full impact the international events will have on the lives of Houstonians is yet to be understood.

"We are aware of U.S. officials’ concerns directed at Chinese officials and Chinese nationals regarding the theft of intellectual property and cyber theft in the United States and hope that China will take immediate steps to address these concerns," Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey wrote in a statement. "We look forward to the reopening of the consulate in Houston once these concerns are addressed."

More than 75,000 Houston-area residents were born in China, according to data from the GHP. China is Houston's third-largest international trade partner and total trade has nearly doubled in the last decade.

Trade dropped more than 25% in 2019 from the year before due to the U.S.-China trade war, according to the GHP.

Will the escalations of 2020 have an even larger, longer-lasting impact? Time will tell.

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