China foreign ministry says U.S. claim that Houston consulate steals IP is slander

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S allegations that China’s consulate in Houston is stealing intellectual property are malicious slander, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.

The United States said on Wednesday it had given China 72 hours to close the consulate “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information”, prompting Chinese threats of retaliation.

When asked about reports that a Chinese researcher accused of visa fraud and concealing ties to the military was now holed up in China’s consulate in San Francisco, Wang, speaking at a daily news conference in Beijing, said that China urged the United States to stop using any excuse to limit, harass or crack down on Chinese scholars in the country.

Reporting by Huizhong Wu; Writing by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Alex Richardson