HONG KONG—The U.S. ordered the abrupt closure of China’s consulate in Houston, a dramatic escalation in bilateral tensions that Beijing condemned as outrageous and unprecedented.

Washington’s demand, issued Tuesday, marked “a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S.,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday at a routine briefing in Beijing. “China urges the U.S. to immediately rescind its erroneous decision, otherwise China will undertake legitimate and necessary responses.”

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