The Chinese consulate in Houston was a "massive spy center," lawmakers say—and the fact that officials were seen burning documents at the Texas facility after the government ordered it to close seems to confirm it. The Houston Fire Department, which was praised by Chinese officials after putting out a fire at the consulate three years ago, was denied entry to the facility after nearby residents reported the fires on Tuesday, NBC reports. Lawmakers including Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio praised the decision to close the consulate, with Rubio describing it as the "central node of the Communist Party's vast network of spies" in the US, reports the Houston Chronicle. The consulate "is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue," he tweeted. More:
- A "hot spot" for espionage. Officials tell NBC that the Houston consulate has long been considered a "hot spot" for Chinese espionage, including attempts to access medical research and infiltrate the oil and natural gas industries.