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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 Global Times, called Pelosi’s planned visit an “invasion,” and suggested shooting down the speaker’s plane if U.S. fighter jets escort it to Taiwan.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,” Xijin wrote.
“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.”
A U.S. government official said, “This is unnecessary rhetoric, and the U.S. policy toward Taiwan remains unchanged.”
Lt. Col. Martin Meiners, a Pentagon spokesman said, “It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on any congressional travel possibilities.”
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is an island nation off the coast of Asia’s mainland. Taiwan has declared itself independent of the People’s Republic of China and has claimed continuation of governance from pre-revolutionary China.
The People’s Republic of China has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow strip of ocean between the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The Chinese military has frequently sent planes into the area, testing Taiwan’s air defense zone.
The U.S. doesn’t have official relations with Taiwan but has been stepping up engagement with the island as China seeks to isolate it from global institutions.
Pelosi and her delegation will also visit Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore and spend time in Hawaii at the headquarters of U.S. Indo-Pacific command, the Financial Times added, citing people familiar with the matter.
Hu, who retired from the Global Times last year, has continued to write and speak for the CCP online and at national events. The former editor rose to prominence with aggressive, mocking and intentionally provocative comments on social media.
However, a series of scandals and serious accusations has damaged his reputation domestically and abroad.
Hu was accused by a former deputy editor, Maggie Duan Jingtao, of fathering children with multiple colleagues at the Global Times. He has denied the accusations, accusing Jingtao of blackmailing him for his position at the newspaper.
Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.