In a dramatic escalation of rhetoric as ties between the two countries deteriorate, a Chinese government propagandist warned on Friday that Beijing may shoot down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane if it is escorted by US military aircraft during a planned visit to Taiwan in August.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) was scheduled to go on a multi-nation trip of Asia on Friday, but she has declined to confirm rumors that she will travel to the independent island to show her support for it.
In an effort to include Congress in the Biden administration’s attempts to forge stronger connections between the US and Asia, Pelosi presented the trip as a part of that endeavor.
Before concluding her press conference, she remarked, “We have global responsibilities, whether it comes to three things, I would say: security, economy and governance. And this will be part of that. Thank you all.”
Hu’s warning was met with a “hypothetical” response from the White House, according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
According to readouts from both countries, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed Taiwan’s situation during their conversation on Thursday.
According to Beijing’s Foreign Ministry, during the conversation, Xi cautioned Biden that people who play with fire will perish by it.
At her briefing on Thursday, Jean-Pierre refused to either confirm or deny that the Chinese president had threatened the president, telling the reporter, “I’m not going to speak to that statement, that comment, that you just read out.”
Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claim that Pelosi would give China a kind of triumph if she backs down, notwithstanding what Biden indicated last week that the US military did not think a travel to Taiwan was a smart idea right now. Elaine Chao, the Transportation Secretary in the Trump administration, was born in Taiwan.
China has repeatedly threatened to retaliate strongly, including by resorting to military force, if Pelosi goes forward with her rumored visit to Taiwan. Taiwan’s current history began with the retreat of Nationalist troops to the island following their defeat by Mao Zedong’s Communists in 1949.
Since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997, Pelosi will be the highest-ranking American elected figure to do so.