Commerce Secretary Mike Preston, who’s devoted significant time and expense to business relationships in China, has issued a statement endorsing the U.S. order that the Chinese consulate in Houston be closed.
I asked Preston for comment on account of the state’s close relationship with that consulate, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused of engaging in spying.
He issued this statement:
“While we continue to seek direct foreign investment from around the world, it is important that countries we do business with operate above board. Trust is an important part of any business relationship and we need to ensure that we maintain the integrity of our state. We support the administration’s actions to safeguard the intellectual property of American businesses.”
Preston has traveled several times to China, both in support of Arkansas businesses that sell products there and seeking Chinese investment. The results have included some Chinese investments in Arkansas and, more recently, some failed projects that Chinese consulate representatives from Houston have linked to Donald Trump’s trade policies.
The Chinese have been accused (and disputed) seeking to steal data from facilities in Texas. Arkansas has not been mentioned so far, but it is one of the states covered by the Arkansas consulate. Its chief, Cai Wei, was in Arkansas last September talking about difficulties created by Trump trade policies. He was quoted in AP coverage about allegations of theft.
Cai Wei, the Chinese consul general, told KTRK-TV in Houston the order to shut down was “quite wrong” and “very damaging” to U.S.-China relations.
Asked about accusations of espionage and stealing data, Cai said, “You have to give some evidence, say something from the facts. … Knowing Americans, you have the rule of law, you are not guilty until you are proved guilty.”