The onus is on President Joe Biden’s administration to make it crystal clear to China that harming U.S. leaders is “tantamount to a declaration of war,” a Florida Republican congressman said Friday.
The Financial Times reported July 19 that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to visit Taiwan during August. Such an action would no doubt draw the ire of the Chinese government, who does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation and instead claims it as part of China.
Hu Xijin, a columnist for the Chinese government-run Global Times newspaper, suggested Friday that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army could shoot down Pelosi’s plane if the House speaker attempted to visit Taiwan.
“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,” he tweeted.
“If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
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
Appearing Friday on the Fox News program “The Story,” Florida Republican Rep. Michael Waltz, a former Green Beret, slammed Hu’s rhetoric.
“This is an unacceptable threat. Speaker Pelosi, regardless of what you think of our politics, is the number three in line for the presidency of the United States,” he said.
Biden needs to be tougher on China, Waltz said, calling on the president to make it clear that harming Pelosi would be “tantamount to a declaration of war.”
“Once again, we see the Biden White House failing to be clear on what the United States finds acceptable and unacceptable — and in this case, need to make it clear that should any harm come to Speaker Pelosi and her trip to Taiwan, it’s tantamount to a declaration of war,” Waltz said.
“That’s the kind of clarity we need from the commander-in-chief right now. And we’re just not getting it.”
During a news conference earlier in the day, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not issue a comment on Hu’s threat.
“We’re just not going to speak on her schedule,” Jean-Pierre said, according to the New York Post.
“As we have said multiple times, we give advice and guidance to any members of Congress where they travel — to the region they travel, whether an — advice on [the] geopolitical situation in the region or in the country, and any national security issues that may arise, but again, I’m not going to speak to a hypothetical.”