The Chinese Consulate in Houston was a "den of spies", US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (local time) amid the downward spiral in US-China ties.
Pompeo, while addressing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated that "we closed" Houston consulate "because it was a den of spies."
The US had recently ordered China to close its Consulate General in Houston. In retaliation, China ordered US to close its diplomatic facility in Chengdu.
US State Department ordered China to close by Friday its consulate in Houston, Texas, over accusations that it engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations in the US.
The two countries have sparred over a range of issues in recent times -- China's move to impose national security law in Hong Kong, its human rights violation in Xinjiang and territorial aggression in the South China Sea have all drawn fierce criticism from Washington.
Terming China's ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as "central threat of our times", Pompeo said: "Our vigorous diplomacy has helped lead an international awakening to the threat of the CCP. Senators, the tide is turning."
The US Secretary of State also talked of China's move to impose draconian national security law in Hong Kong, which is said to be aimed at crushing dissent in the erstwhile British colony which saw massive protests last year.
"In our hemisphere, Canada has stood firm against the Chinese Communist Party's hostage-taking. Its three major telecom carriers have also banned untrusted vendors," he said.
"Belize and Haiti have denounced Beijing's national security law targeting Hong Kong. Denmark has rejected the CCP's attempted censorship of Danish newspapers. Sweden has closed its Confucius Institutes. Lithuanian intelligence services have identified China as a political - a potential threat for the first time," he added.
Further, the US Secretary of State also noted that in the Indo-Pacific, "Australia declared China's South China Sea claims unlawful and illegitimate, as have we."