Hu Xijin, former editor of China’s state-run Global Times and a top Communist propagandist, took his increasingly belligerent rhetoric against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) rumored visit to Taiwan to its ultimate conclusion on Friday by advising the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to simply shoot Pelosi’s plane down, along with her U.S. Air Force escorts.
“If U.S. fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is [an] invasion,” Hu argued.
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. https://t.co/V7LhrXgXoM
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) July 29, 2022
“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,” he said.
Hu’s outburst was prompted by reports that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, reportedly planned for April but postponed after she contracted the Wuhan coronavirus, could take place this weekend. Pelosi previously discussed traveling to Taiwan sometime in August, but a firm date had not been set. Neither she nor her office have confirmed any planned travel to Taiwan.
Pelosi departs today with a group of other U.S. lawmakers on an Asia tour that will include announced stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore. A stopover in Taiwan had not been confirmed at the time of this writing.
“I never talk about my travel. It’s a danger to me,” Pelosi said when asked by reporters to confirm her itinerary on Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that the Pentagon has prepared plans for escorting Pelosi to Taiwan if she proceeds with her visit, including “overlapping rings of protection” that would include jet fighters, surveillance aircraft, and surface ships.
“If there’s a decision made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else is going to travel and they asked for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit. And I’ll just leave it at that,” Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Mark Milley said.
President Joe Biden vaguely stated last week that the U.S. military believes a Pelosi visit to Taiwan would not be “a good idea right now.” The White House and Pentagon have thus far declined to elaborate on this statement.
Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers have urged Pelosi to visit Taiwan as scheduled, saying China should not dictate the travel plans of American officials. On the other hand, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) on Wednesday strongly implied Pelosi should back down, because “escalating tensions with China” would cause a “significant distraction” for the Biden administration.
Hu Xijin apparently wants that distraction to include World War III. Last week, he suggested the PLA should force Pelosi’s plane down in Chinese territory, abducting the Speaker and other American lawmakers traveling with her. He also proposed sending PLA warplanes to shadow Pelosi all the way down to the tarmac in Taipei, or shutting down all Taiwanese aviation with a no-fly zone, all of which would be acts of war.
Chinese government officials have been somewhat less bloodthirsty than Hu in their public pronouncements, but they have still suggested a military crisis could result if Pelosi visits Taiwan.
On Thursday, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping told Biden that Chinese “public opinion” on Taiwan could not be denied, and “those who play with fire will perish by it.”