BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The staff from the recently closed Chinese Consulate General in Houston arrived in Beijing on Monday evening, with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi greeting them at the airport.
The staff were returning home for the first time since July 21, when the United States abruptly demanded that the Chinese Consulate General in Houston cease all operations and events within a specified time frame.
In his welcome speech, Wang said that, in the face of an unexpected incident, the Chinese consular staff had remained calm and unflappable, resolutely safeguarding the core interests of the country, the dignity of the country and the people, and the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese agencies abroad in an extremely difficult and even dangerous environment.
Wang said that the Consulate General in Houston showed that the anti-China forces in the United States are undermining China-U.S. relations and deliberately trying to block China's development.
"But this is going against the tide of history, and it will never succeed!" he stressed.
In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Wang said that the Chinese Consulate General in Houston was the first consulate general opened by China in the United States after the establishment of diplomatic ties, and it had always been an important symbol of China-U.S. friendship.
After the planned closure was announced in July, the Chinese Embassy in the United States said in a statement, "It is a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the U.S."
In a countermeasure, China demanded the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu. The move was put into effect on July 27.
At the airport on Monday, Wang said that China firmly believes that China-U.S. relations will be revived after the current period of difficulty, adding that the destiny of China is in the hands of its people.
Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, no one and no force can stop the nation from moving towards rejuvenation, Wang said.