China: Military won't 'sit idly by' if Pelosi visits Taiwan

A Chinese fighter jet enters Taiwan airspace on Oct. 1, 2021. (Courtesy Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
A Chinese fighter jet enters Taiwan airspace on Oct. 1, 2021. (Courtesy Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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Despite a warning of military retaliation by Beijing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to visit Taiwan on her Asia trip, according to two people briefed on the matter.

CNBC reported Pelosi, who began her Asia trip earlier Monday in Singapore, was due to spend Tuesday night in Singapore followed by visits to Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

At the White House on Monday afternoon, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that Pelosi, being the head of an independent branch of government, has a right to visit Taiwan, other Congress members have visited Taiwan this year, and Washington’s one-China policy has not changed.

“Where’s the drama?” Kirby asked.

“We do not support Taiwan independence and expect any cross-channel differences to be worked out by peaceful means,” he told reporters.

President Biden, however, said last Wednesday he thought the U.S. military believed a Pelosi visit to Taiwan was “not a good idea right now.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned Monday that a visit to Taiwan by Pelosi would be “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs” that would lead to “very serious developments and consequences.”

“We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao told a regular daily briefing.

See the White House press briefing:

Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao said: “if she dares to go, then let us wait and see.”

A reporter at the White House briefing asked Kirby why, if the policy has not changed, was the speaker “being urged not to go.”

“I don’t know that she was urged not to go,” Kirby replied. “Who urged her not to go?”

The reporter noted that Biden said the military doesn’t think the visit is a good idea.

“The speaker makes her own decisions,” Kirby said. “What we did was provide her context, analysis, facts, information, so that she can make the best decision possible, for every stop, for every overseas travel.”

Beijing views visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan as an affirmation of the pro-independence movement on the island. Washington has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. But U.S. law requires that the U.S. provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

On Friday, a prominent journalist connected to the Chinese Communist Party wrote that if Pelosi’s plane is accompanied by U.S. fighter jets, it should regarded as an “invasion,” and the speaker’s plane should be shot down.

The former chief editor of the Chinese Communist Party’s state tabloid, the Global Times, suggested the country shoot down U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for visiting Taiwan if her plane refuses to divert course.

China’s government has warned it will take “forceful measures” if Pelosi visits Taiwan after the Financial Times reported she would travel to the Chinese-claimed island nation next month.

Hu Xijin, former chief editor of the state-run Global Times, said 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 tactical movement of obstruction.”

“If ineffective,” he wrote, “then shoot them down.”

A U.S. government official reacted to the “unnecessary rhetoric,” insisting “the U.S. policy toward Taiwan remains unchanged.”

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