Intel agency believes Chinese Communist Party considering retaliatory consulate closure

The move would be payback for the Trump administration’s move to shutter the Chinese consulate in Houston

A U.S. intelligence agency believes the Chinese Communist Party is considering closing an American consulate in China as payback for the Trump administration’s move to shutter the consulate in Houston due to the targeting of U.S. energy firms, Fox News has learned.

An intelligence source told Fox News Thursday that it is unclear which consulate China could close but said that they believe if the CCP makes a move, it would be one that was “proportionate” to Houston.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHUTTERED CHINESE CONSULTE IN HOUSTON DUE TO TARGETING OF US ENERGY FIRMS: SOURCES

The U.S. consulate in Wuhan, China is considered the "sister" facility to China's Houston consulate. The U.S. also has consulates in China in Chengdu, Shenyang, Guangzhou and Shanghai. The U.S. embassy in China is in Beijing.

The South China Post cited a source in reporting Thursday that the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu would be the target for China’s retaliation.

Sources also told Fox News Thursday that the Trump administration’s move to shutter the Chinese consulate in Houston was due, in part, to the Chinese Communist Party’s targeting of U.S. energy firms.

One major reason the Houston consulate closed, according to sources, as opposed to other Chinese diplomatic outposts, was because the CCP was carrying out threats and intimidation tactics targeting U.S. energy firms in the South China Sea.

The Chinese officials carrying this out, according to sources, were based mostly in the Houston consulate.

The information comes after the State Department claimed Wednesday that the administration was closing the consulate due to increased espionage activity.

CHINA THREATENS RETALIATION AFTER US ORDERS CLOSURE OF HOUSTON CONSULATE

China called the closure an “unprecedented escalation" by the United States and threatened to retaliate, according to the South China Morning Post.

“China demands the U.S. revoke the wrong decision. If the U.S. went ahead, China would take necessary countermeasures,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement to Fox News that the closure directive was issued "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information.”

The U.S. "will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior," she added. "President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.”

Fox News’ Rich Edson, Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.