The world woke up to the news that the USA asked China to close their consulate in Houston citing it was used for unlawful activities. The Houston consulate was China’s first in the USA. China naturally put on a face of affront stating it was holier than thou and ordered the USA to terminate this order immediately or face severe consequences.
Other news followed that the Houston consulate general Cai Wei had used his offices to create forged documents for suspected Chinese citizens to facilitate evacuation on chartered flights from the USA, his previous stint in Australia was also proof that he wasn’t averse to indulging in ‘other’ activities that went beyond his brief per Vienna Convention.
The USA stated that the Chinese consulate in Houston was the hub of its espionage activities in the country, it had facilitated civil unrest in the country while other Chinese spies also tried taking shelter in other Chinese consulates in the country to evade arrest. In retaliation, China shut down the US consulate in Chengdu.
While these make for great optics, it is a universally acknowledged fact that all stations work as spying stations. They are used for running agents, spies, recruitment etc. Remember the Moscow Signal- an intense microwave transmission directed at US embassy in Moscow from 1953-76. As the USA would be a country of enormous interest to China, it is understood that Beijing would deploy a consular general who was comfortable with getting his hands dirty.
Things are now heating up as Cold War 2.0 is in play. At the height of the previous Cold War, USA and USSR took 13 years to finalise their embassies in Moscow and Washington. USSR took 7 years to build an incomplete 8 storey US embassy after which it was decided it would have to be pulled down as Soviets had infested the building with listening devices.
So, as we move forward to 2 ideologically opposite power centres jostling with each other directly and by proxy, we are likely to see a lot more action. China has learnt well from its Soviet communist masters and if the stories about KGB we have grown up hearing we’re enthralling, to say the least, the decades to come, promise to be very interesting.