The official Chinese Communist Party spokesperson has reiterated President Xi Jinping’s warning not to play with fire over Taiwan ahead of a possible visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The comment in People’s Daily did not mention her by name, while other official media outlets refrained from direct attacks on her, but did report warnings from former President Donald Trump against a visit.
Meanwhile, more fiery comments on social media — including calls for an immediate military response — went uncensored and went viral on the country’s tightly controlled internet.
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Pelosi has declined to disclose details about her Asian trip for security reasons.
Saturday’s comment, attributed to Zhong Sheng, a pseudonym often used for official comments on important issues related to China’s foreign relations, echoed a statement made by Xi during his two-and-a-half-hour conversation with US President Joe Biden earlier this month. week that “it was the will of 1.4 billion Chinese to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“Public opinion cannot be defied and those who play with fire are sure to set themselves on fire. The US needs to see this clearly and abide by the One-China principle with its words and actions,” the commentary said.
It also calls for more dialogue between the two countries “to manage their differences … and avoid misjudgments”.
It went on to say that Biden and Xi “had emphasized the importance of increased communication and reached a consensus on communication. The working groups of the two countries should put the consensus into action and improve the clarity and stability of bilateral relations through candid communication”.
The article also details areas of cooperation for the two countries, including maintaining a stable supply chain, energy and food security, containing Covid and managing the risks of deflation and recession.
Some state media reported Trump’s warning to Pelosi that “the Chinese mess is the last thing she should be involved in — she’s only going to make it worse.”
“Everything she touches,” he wrote on his social media outlet Truth Social, “turns into Chaos, Disruption and ‘C***’.”
Angry comments and threats to intercept Pelosi’s plane were among the hottest topics on Chinese social media on Saturday.
A Weibo page for posts with the hashtag “if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, the Chinese military wouldn’t just sit and watch” was read 830 million times at 6 p.m., though only 30,000 comments appeared. It has long been a custom for internet censorship on the mainland to manage online comments to prevent public opinion from spiraling out of control.
Another page for a post with a hashtag that China would take decisive action if Pelosi visited Taiwan was read more than 100 million times on Saturday afternoon.
The official Weibo report from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference quoted anonymous observers as saying that if Pelosi’s plane entered Taiwan’s airspace without Beijing’s permission, it could be seen as a violation of Chinese territory and Pelosi could respond with “the fiercest countermeasures”.
Hu Xijin, former editor of state-owned tabloid Global timesmade even more extreme comments about Weibo, saying, “If US fighter jets escort the plane from Pelosi to Taiwan, that’s an invasion.
“The PLA has the right to forcibly dislodge Pelosi’s plane and US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movements of obstacles. If this is ineffective, shoot them down.”
Twitter deleted comments calling for Chinese planes to shoot down Pelosi’s plane. Photo: Xinhua alt=Twitter deleted comments urging Chinese planes to shoot down Pelosi’s plane. Photo: Xinhua>
Hu said on Weibo that a similar message on Twitter has been banned. He added that if Pelosi takes a civilian plane to Taiwan, that would also give the PLA fighter jets a chance to land in Taiwan as well.
Chinese officials have made no public comments about military actions, but off the record they have suggested to foreign businessmen and journalists the possibility.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative reporting on China and Asia for over a century. For more SCMP stories, explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.