(WTVO) — Tensions over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential trip to Tawian reached a fever pitch Friday as a spokesperson for China’s Communist Party said her visit would be considered an invasion and the country could shoot down her plane.
“If U.S. fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,” Hu Xijin, an analyst for the Chinese state-controlled Global Times said on Twitter. “The PLA (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 ineffective, then shoot them down.”
Pelosi will leave this weekend on a trip that includes Singapore, Japan, and South Korea — and possibly, Taiwan.
News of a possible visit by Pelosi has set off intense speculation about China’s potential diplomatic and military responses. But for Taiwan, the visit — if it occurs — would be merely the latest point of strife in an already tense situation that has shadowed the island democracy for decades.
“The main point is not in Pelosi coming to Taiwan, but it’s to look at how the U.S. and China effectively control the risks that may arise,” said Arthur Zhin-Sheng Wang, a defense studies expert at Taiwan’s Central Police University.
If her trips goes ahead, Pelosi would be the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich went there more than 25 years ago.
Experts in Taiwan say they do not expect China to respond with direct military confrontation and that it is important to view the potential visit in context.
“We are very grateful to Speaker Pelosi, who has been very supportive and friendly to Taiwan for many years, and we would welcome any friendly foreign guest to visit,” Taiwan’s premier Su Tseng-chang said Wednesday.
China has continued to silence Taiwan on the global stage, opposing all official exchanges between the island and other governments. It has poached Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, including many small island nations, offering them access to Beijing’s resources and support. And China threatens governments that send official visitors to Taiwan, as it has done with France, Lithuania and the European Union, among others.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.