Taiwan has reportedly started to call back soldiers on leave and ordered them to prepare for war as communist China has repeatedly issued threats ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) anticipated visit to the island this week.
“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,” Chinese propagandist Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing this week, reported CBS News.
“As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added, per CNN.
In response, Taiwan has canceled the leave of some soldiers and ordered them to “immediately prepare for war” while China conducts military drills in the area.
U.S. and Taiwanese officials told CNN that Pelosi is expected to visit the island on Tuesday as part of her trip through Asia despite Democrat President Joe Biden’s apparent warning to her against making the trip.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the administration did not know what Pelosi would do and that since Congress is an independent and co-equal branch of the U.S. government, “the decision is entirely the Speaker’s.”
“And so if the speaker does decide to visit and China tries to create some kind of crisis or otherwise escalate tensions, that would be entirely on Beijing,” Blinken said. “We are looking for them, in the event she decides to visit, to act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on Monday that the administration would support Pelosi if she goes to Taiwan.
“We want to make sure that when she travels overseas, she can do so safely and securely and we’re going to make sure of that. There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There is no reason for any actions to be taken. It is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan,” Kirby said. “We shouldn’t be as a country — we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her.”
The White House faced backlash Friday afternoon after critics said it gave a weak response to China’s threats.
Chinese propagandist Hu Xijin, editor of China’s jingoistic state-run Global Times, responded to news about Pelosi’s travels by issuing a threat on social media. Hu is a former Chinese army officer, a member of the Chinese Communist Party, and is the unofficial mouthpiece for the country, able to say what China’s top officials want to say, but often can’t.
“If US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion,” Hu said. “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.”
When asked about the matter, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not address the remarks from Hu and only said that they would not comment on Pelosi’s travels.