The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has issued another warning to Nancy Pelosi ahead of her expected trip to Taiwan with a video simulating a missile strike, aircraft carriers advancing and fighter jets in formation – and a stern warning from state media.
The video was posted on WeChat on Monday morning following reports the U.S. House Speaker will arrive in Taipei on Tuesday night – despite Beijing warning they could shoot her plane down and launch a military response.
Chinese state media personality Hu Xijin also issued a grim message to the top Democrat: ‘Let her go to Taiwan. But pray before departure: wish herself a safe journey and wish herself not be defined by history as a sinner who starts a spiral of escalation process expanding military frictions to a large-scale war in the Taiwan Strait.’
Senior Taiwanese government officials and a US official both told CNN that the stop is on her trip, even though it is not on her public itinerary.
Reports from TVBS News in Taiwan have said Pelosi could arrive in Taipei as early as tomorrow night and her team has booked two hotels, although there is no mention of the visit in her official itinerary.
The US official added that defense department officials were working on securing a plan to keep her safe, according to CNN. The visit will inflame tensions with China, which considers Taiwan one of its own territories.
Amid the threat, Taiwanese officials reportedly have cancelled leave for soldiers and officers ‘to immediately prepare’ for the prospect of war.
Last Friday, Chinese state media said the government was prepared to shoot Pelosi’s plane down if it was detected in its airspace accompanied by a fighter jet escort.
The latest warning was issued during a Chinese foreign ministry briefing by spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who said that because of Pelosi’s status as the ‘No. 3 official of the US government’, a visit to Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would ‘lead to egregious political impact’.
Lijian added that it would be ‘a gross interference in China’s internal affairs’ and 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.
Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao said: ‘if she dares to go, then let us wait and see.’
The White House has also sent mixed messaging on the trip. Initially, President Biden said he didn’t think it was a ‘good idea’, but last week National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it was ultimately her decision.
Kirby was also on CNN on Monday morning criticizing the Chinese for their rhetoric.
‘There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There’s no reason for any actions to be taken … It is very much in keeping with our policy.
Pelosi kicked-off a tour of four Asian countries in the early hours of Monday morning in Singapore amid intense speculation that she may risk the wrath of Beijing by also visiting self-ruled Taiwan.
The House Speakertouched down in Singapore just before 4:30am local time, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged her at a meeting to strive for ‘stable’ ties with Beijing.
A press release from Pelosi’s office on Sunday said she would visit four Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
During Monday’s visit in Singapore, Pelosi and Lee discussed climate change and economic stability.
He also ‘highlighted the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security’. Later, she will attend a cocktail party at the American Chamber of Commerce.
But it is her potential visit to Taiwan that is overshadowing the whole trip.
Last week, during a call with President Joe Biden, China’s Xi Jinping warned him not to ‘play with fire’ on the issue.
Pelosi would be the first House Speaker in 25 years to visit the territory after Republican Newt Gingrich.
The GOP have supported her trip and have said not going would be a sign of weakness, despite the tense rhetoric from Beijing.
Pelosi has also sparked anger from China in the past by meeting with pro-democracy dissidents and the Dalai Lama.
She also unfurled a banner in Tiananmen Square in 1991 which read ‘to those who died for democracy,’ in reference to the victims of the 1989 massacre.
In July, the speaker — who is number three in the line of presidential succession — told the media in a press conference: ‘It’s important for us to show support for Taiwan.’
The Global Times, China’s state-run tabloid, suggested that Pelosi might use ’emergency excuses like an aircraft fault or refuelling’ to land at a Taiwanese airport.
‘If she dares to stop in Taiwan, it will be the moment to ignite the powder keg of the situation in the Taiwan Straits,’ Hu Xijin, a former Global Times editor and now commentator, tweeted.
Beijing’s foreign ministry on Monday warned a visit would ‘seriously threaten the peace and stability’ of the Taiwan Strait if it goes ahead.
Bloomberg’s China editor John Liu said in an appearance on the network on Sunday: ‘I do think it’s worth mentioning that not mentioning if there will be a trip to Taiwan on her itinerary is different from saying she will not go to Taiwan.’
He added: ‘It is not off the table that there could be a surprise visit.’