A top Chinese state-run Global Times media figure declared on Friday that the Chinese military has the right to shoot down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane if she visits Taiwan.
Commentator and former editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted on Friday, “If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion. The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
Until December, Hu was Global Times’ editor-in-chief – a role he held since 2005. He remains a prominent figure in Chinese state media.
Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan has spurred months-long contention with China, which has ramped up over the past week with China threatening to act against the U.S. Pelosi was set to depart on Friday for a four-day Asia trip, though it’s unclear whether Taiwan will be one of her stops, CNN reported.
On July 20, President Joe Biden said U.S. military officials don’t believe it’s a good idea for Pelosi to visit Taiwan at this time. On July 22, Pelosi said the U.S. military may be afraid Chinese forces could shoot down her plane as she travels to the island.
Earlier this week, the U.S. military was said to be bolstering its forces in the Indo-Pacific region to potentially provide cover for Nancy Pelosi’s plane amid risks of Chinese aggression.
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan would be notable, as she would be the first Speaker of the House to do so in 25 years.
Hu’s comments on Friday weren’t the first time he urged the Chinese military to act against the U.S. and Pelosi.
Last week, Hu said China wouldn’t confirm how it may respond to Pelosi’s trip, but said, “The US and Taiwan authorities will definitely pay a high price for her visit. This will be ultimately a military game, a good show full of suspense.”
In another post, Hu said if the U.S. couldn’t “restrain” Pelosi from visiting Taiwan, “let China restrain her & punish her. PLA Air Force will surely make her visit a disgrace to herself and the U.S.”
Hu also called on the Chinese military to send military aircraft to accompany Nancy Pelosi’s plane, a move he said would be a “historic crossing of the island by military aircraft from mainland” and “overwhelm Pelosi’s visit.”
Also on Friday, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted a message saying “Preparing for war!” on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The message went viral amassing hundreds of thousands of likes from Chinese citizens. It came hours after Biden and Xi held a rare two-hour phone call during which Biden distanced himself from supporting Taiwan’s independence from China.