"Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted Wednesday. "China's consulate in Houston is not a diplomatic facility. It is the central node of the Communist Party's vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States."
#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 22, 2020
#China’s consulate in #Houston is not a diplomatic facility. It is the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States. Now that building must close & the spies have 72 hours to leave or face arrest.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 22, 2020
This needed to happen.
Last week, China said it would impose sanctions on Rubio and two other U.S. lawmakers, and an ambassador in response to similar actions taken by the U.S. against Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
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Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Chris Smith and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback were targeted, as was the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. The four have been critical of the ruling Communist Party's policies toward minority groups and people of faith.
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The U.S. said in a brief statement that the Houston consulate was ordered closed "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information."
"This needed to happen," Rubio tweeted.
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While Rubio was outspoken about the move Wednesday, Texas lawmakers have not been as vocal so far, except for a comment from Cruz on a user's remark about the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.
"Everyone needs to calm down," one user tweeted in apparent jest over a debate about Mavericks players' decision to kneel during the national anthem. "The Chinese are just moving to their new consulate in Dallas."
"Fair point," Cruz tweeted.
Sen. John Cornyn shared Rubio's initial tweet Wednesday morning, but had otherwise not yet weighed in on the conversation.
ABC News contributed to this report.