China’s Historic Houston Consulate Gets the Boot, Goes Up in Flames

In the midst of the souring relationship between the two countries:

Beijing vowed to retaliate after it said that the United States ordered its Houston consulate to be closed within 72 hours, calling it an “outrageous and unjustified move,” marking a serious escalation in the quickly deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China…

The announcement came after reports Tuesday evening that the Houston police and fire departments responded to reports of fires in the courtyard of the consulate compound.

The consulate at 3417 Montrose was open in 1979 after Deng Xiaoping’s visit to Houston and the beginning of greater commercial cooperation between the two countries.  It’s historic for Vulcan too, as described here it became involved in our first trip (and probably the others) to China in 1981:

Getting our visas was a little tricky because China’s consulate network wasn’t the largest. Fortunately they had one in Houston (importance of oil?) and my brother Pem could shuttle my passport down there. China’s visa application form was interesting; it was the first time on such a form that my political party and religion were queried. Once my passport was stamped with the Chinese visa, we realised that in our panic they had stamped a passport that was about to expire. So I obtained a new passport, only to have both old passport and Chinese visa cancelled simultaneously. Fortunately the Chinese consulate was understanding and I departed for China with new passport and visa. (This was the same Chinese consulate where, the same year, the Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin was detained for 21 hours in the process of defecting to the US; his life is the basis for the movie Mao’s Last Dancer.)

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