In response to reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might travel to Taiwan, China has issued the sternest warning threatening to shoot down her plane if she flies to Taiwan.
China Flashes ‘Rare Footage’ Of DF-17 Hypersonic Missile Ahead Of Army Day Celebrations, Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on July 31, confirmed her visit to Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea. However, she didn’t mention a potential stop in Taiwan on her official itinerary.
Pelosi is leading a small delegation of lawmakers, including Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the chair of the House’s foreign affairs, to Pacific nations starting this weekend.
US Defense officials in the United States are worried that China might interpret a congressional delegation to Taiwan escorted by military aircraft as an invasion.
Hu Xijin, a commentator for the state-owned Global Times in China, ratcheted the rhetoric on Friday (July 30) by stating that China’s military might shoot down the speaker’s plane.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is [an] invasion,” tweeted Hu Xijin, a columnist for the Chinese Communist Party-controlled Global Times. “The [People’s Liberation Army] has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making the tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
In a sarcastic tweet, Hu said, “Where is Pelosi now? Does anybody know? Some said she would be going to Taiwan by submarine instead, and others said she had sneaked into Taiwan disguised as someone else. Is that the case?”
Recently, Pelosi mentioned the possibility of her plane getting shot down after President Joe Biden told reporters that the US military thinks her potential visit to the island nation is “not a good idea.”
The Biden administration also privately discussed the risks with Pelosi and urged her to postpone her trip until later in the year.
Pelosi presented the trip as a means of involving Congress in the Biden administration’s initiatives to forge closer ties between the US and Asia.
“We have global responsibilities, and whether it comes to three things, I would say: security, economy, and governance. And this will be part of that. Thank you all,” Pelosi said. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre described Hu’s threat as “hypothetical,” and the White House chose not to respond.
“We’re just not going to speak on her schedule,” Jean-Pierre said. “As we have said multiple times, we give advice and guidance to any members of Congress where they travel — to the region they travel, whether an — advice on [the] geopolitical situation in the region or the country, and any national security issues that may arise, but again, I’m not going to speak to a hypothetical.”
Hu left the Global Times last year and has kept up his writing and speaking for the CCP online and at public gatherings. The former editor gained notoriety for making hostile, mocking, and purposefully provocative comments on social media.
However, His reputation has been harmed at home and abroad by numerous scandals and serious accusations.
Kuan-Ting Chen, CEO of a Taiwan-based think tank, told EurAsian Times, “China would not take such rash and potentially suicidal action.” He noted that Hu Xijin, who made the remarks about shooting down her plane, is a “hawkish propagandist.”
“That is a poker face rather than official policy. If Hu can say this and the trip gets canceled, that is a very low-cost way for China to split the US and Taiwan and embarrass the United States and the Biden Administration, who has continued to put pressure on China,” Chen added.
In a similar line, Everett Dolman, Professor of Strategy at the US Air Force Air Command and Staff College (ACSC), said that “It’s no surprise that China would be upset with the possibility of this high-profile visit to territory it claims sovereignty over, but I suspect it is saber rattling and, while a dangerous bit of unsubtle international brinkmanship, will result in more rhetoric than action.”
Chinese aggressiveness in the Taiwan Strait, including an uptick in naval activity and air intercepts, is nothing new to the US military. US fighter jets flying in the area are already allowed to carry the most ammunition possible.
Experts believe that US officials are more worried that Beijing, as it did during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996, will test missiles in the waters near Taiwan as a form of intimidation.
The Chinese president has warned the United States that it must adhere to its “One China” policy, adding: “Those who play with fire will eventually get burned.”
Given Pelosi’s record on issues relating to human rights, she has long inflamed the Chinese government. She has been a vocal supporter of dissidents who has been suppressed by China since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, whether they are in Hong Kong or elsewhere.
The speaker was also forcibly removed from Tiananmen Square in 1991 for raising a banner in memory of the pro-democracy demonstrators who had died there two years ago.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be reclaimed by force if necessary. Beijing views any visit to Taiwan by a representative of a foreign government as an infringement on its sovereignty.
China is hardening its stance amid growing concerns that an error could increase the likelihood of a conflict. Beijing recently announced that it was conducting live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait and released footage of a related exercise in the South China Sea.
On July 30, state broadcaster CCTV aired a brief video of Type 055 guided-missile destroyer Yanan conducting live-fire training in the South China Sea.
Following news that Pelosi might visit the island alongside Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, China and the US have been bolstering their military capabilities in the vicinity of the Taiwan Strait over the past few weeks.
For instance, the USS Ronald Reagan was reportedly deployed by the US 7th Fleet from a port call in Singapore to the South China Sea, a maneuver the Pentagon claimed was a planned operation.
Also, the PLA’s 80th Group Army posted a brief message on Friday saying, “Preparing for war!” on its Weibo account, which had more than 1.58 million likes by Saturday night. However, the unit is based in Shandong and is under the control of Northern Theater Command, which is not in charge of any operations involving Taiwan.
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