Chinese state media threatens that China could ‘shoot down’ Pelosi’s plane over visit to Taiwan

Xi warns Biden: 'Those who play with fire will perish by it'

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2022.
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2022. | SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

An analyst for a Chinese state-controlled media outlet threatened that the Chinese military could shoot down Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane if U.S. fighter jets escort her to Taiwan during a planned visit to the island.

The threat comes after Chinese leader Xi Jinping reportedly warned President Joe Biden against relations with Taiwan during a phone call that lasted more than two hours Thursday.

“If U.S. fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion. The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the U.S. fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down,” Hu Xijin, an analyst for the Chinese state-controlled Global Times, said on Twitter Friday in a post that has since been removed by the platform. 

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The threat comes amid reports that Pelosi is planning a visit to Taiwan, a democratic self-governed island that the Chinese Communist Party claims is part of its territory, as part of her Asia tour next week.

“The Chinese mainland must be brave enough to take this step of flying warplanes over the island, which, unlike warplanes flight around Taiwan, can truly reflect China’s sovereignty over the territory, and is more substantial than any visit to Taiwan by senior foreign officials,” Xijin added. “Using Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan to complete this leap is most likely to make it a peaceful transition.”

On Thursday, Jinping spoke to Biden for two hours by phone on issues ranging from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the global economy, as well as Taiwan, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Xi urged the U.S. to tread cautiously in its ties with the island and that it was a matter of China’s sovereignty. “Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this,” Xi said, according to accounts of the meeting issued by the Chinese Embassy in Washington, the Journal said.

A senior Biden administration official was quoted as saying that Xi had used similar rhetoric in the past.

Biden was quoted as telling Xi that the U.S. policy remains unchanged, and also that “the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

In an op-ed for The Washington Stand, Arielle Del Turco, assistant director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, wrote that “Pelosi has a longstanding legacy of promoting human rights in China,” and noted that Biden said last week that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “not a good idea right now.”

"Some Taiwanese analysts fear that if Pelosi were to back out of the trip now, it would further embolden Chinese belligerence and leave Taiwan in a more insecure position than before. It would also teach Chinese officials that if they make enough noise, they can control the actions of U.S. leaders. That should never be true," she wrote. 

Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid and senior fellow for International Religious Freedom at FRC, was quoted as saying, “Speaker Pelosi should visit Taiwan without further delay or excuses. The travel schedule of an American congressional leader must not and should never be dictated or sabotaged by the genocidal Xi Jinping’s Communist regime.”

Fu added that her visit “will make it clear to the 23 million Taiwanese and the CCP, as well as to others of our Asian allies, that American people stand in absolute solidarity with our value-sharing allies and strategic partners.”

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