The US has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, by Friday – a move described as “political provocation” by Beijing.
The US State Department said the decision was taken “in order to protect American intellectual property”.
But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said it was “outrageous and unjustified”.
The statements came after unidentified individuals were filmed burning paper in bins in the building’s courtyard.
Tensions have been rising between the US and China for some time. President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China’s imposition of a controversial new security law on Hong Kong.
Then on Tuesday, the US Department of Justice accused China of sponsoring hackers who had been targeting labs developing Covid-19 vaccines. Two Chinese nationals, who allegedly spied on US research companies and got help from state agents for other thefts, have been charged.