Chinese journalist: Plane carrying Pelosi to Taiwan could be shot down

Amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing, a journalist from the Chinese government-controlled Global Times has suggested that a plane carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could be shot down if it travels alongside American military aircraft as part of a planned stop in Taiwan, as the New York Post reports.

According to the outlet, Hu Xijin tweeted the apparent threat, writing, “If U.S. fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is [an] invasion. The [People’s Liberation Army] 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 in effective, then shoot them down,” added Hu, in an alarming bit of rhetoric ahead of Pelosi’s scheduled tour of several Asian countries, part of which was to include a visit to self-governing Taiwan meant to show solidarity in the face of Chinese aggression.

Amping up the tension even further was Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, after a Thursday phone conversation with President Joe Biden, posted a message to his country’s foreign ministry website which, while not mentioning Pelosi specifically, issued words of caution to those who might be seen as encroaching on others’ sovereignty, as the Financial Times reported.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this,” the Chinese president’s statement read.

Biden himself recently indicated that American military leaders had expressed a belief that a stop in Taiwan by Pelosi was “not a good idea now,” according to the Post, but a number of Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich disagreed, arguing that for her to back out now would amount to a “victory of sorts” for China.

During an appearance on Fox & Friends on Monday, Gingrich said that Pelosi “cannot allow the Chinese communist dictatorship to think that it can bully an American Speaker of the House.”

“And frankly, she ought to tell the Pentagon and the State Department to shut up. They’re always timid. They’re always risk averse. And they don’t get it. It’s very important to show strength. So the Chinese communists understand that we’re real, and we’re not, just as Mao called us, a paper tiger,” the former speaker added.

Though the notion that an American politician would face real risk of the sort proposed by Hu may seem outlandish to some, China expert Gordon Chang explained on Friday during a Fox News appearance that “[t[his very well may not be bluster. …China is lashing out. …This is an extremely dangerous regime at this moment,” facts made all the more terrifying by the extraordinary weakness currently emanating from the White House.