US urged to ensure safety following consulate arson attack

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China Thursday urged the United States to take "effective measures" to protect its diplomatic institutions and staff and prevent similar incidents following an arson attack on the Chinese consulate-general in San Francisco.

Reporters stand by the front gate of the Chinese Consulate-General in San Francisco, the United States, on Jan. 2, 2014. The United States is "deeply concerned" by reports that the Chinese Consulate-General in San Francisco was damaged in an arson attack, the State Department said Thursday. [Xinhua] 

"The Chinese Foreign Ministry and embassy and consulates to the United States have lodged solemn representations to the U.S. side, demanding they solve the case as soon as possible and severely punish the culprit," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

"The arson attack is a violent crime targeted at the Chinese consular institution in the United States, causing severe damage to the consulate facilities and posing a threat to the safety of the consulate staff and the residents living nearby, said a consulate spokesman in a statement.  

On Wednesday, a person got out of a mini-van parked in front of the main entrance of the Chinese consulate-general in San Francisco, poured two buckets of gasoline onto the front door and set it on fire, severely damaging the door, but fortunately causing no casualties.

The FM spokeman added that further information will be released in a timely manner.

The United States is deeply concerned by the arson attack, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. "We take this incident very seriously."

The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local authorities to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators, Harf said.

(Xinhua contributed to the stories.)

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