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China’s official media sends indirect warnings to Nancy Pelosi over Taiwan visit

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 30/07/2022 Josephine Ma
  • Communist mouthpiece repeated Xi Jinping's warning not to play with fire, while other state outlets cited Donald Trump's opposition to any visit
  • A less measured response came on the tightly controlled internet, with angry calls for direct military action if the US House Speaker visits the island

The official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party has repeated President Xi Jinping's warning against playing with fire over Taiwan, ahead of a possible visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The commentary in People's Daily did not mention her by name, while other official outlets refrained from direct attacks on her, but did report warnings by former president Donald Trump against visiting.

No sign of Chinese build-up ahead of Pelosi's potential Taiwan trip: White House

Meanwhile, more fiery comments on social media - including calls for a direct military response - remained uncensored and went viral on the country's tightly controlled internet.

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Pelosi has declined to disclose details of her Asian trip citing security reason.

Saturday's commentary, attributed to Zhong Sheng, a pen name often used for official comments on major issues concerning China's foreign relations, repeated a statement by Xi during his two and a half-hour talk with US President Joe Biden earlier this week that "it was the will of 1.4 billion Chinese people to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

"Public opinion cannot be defied and those who play with fire will definitely set themselves on fire. The US must see this point clearly and abide by the one-China principle with its words and deeds," the commentary said.

It also calls for more dialogue between the two countries "to manage their differences ... and avoid wrong judgments".

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It continued that Biden and Xi had "emphasised the importance of more communication and have reached a consensus on communication. The working teams of the two countries should put the consensus into action and enhance the clarity and stability of the bilateral relations through candid communication".

The article also lays out areas of cooperation for the two countries including maintaining a stable supply chain, energy and food security, containing Covid and dealing with the risks of deflation and recession.

Some state media outlets reported Trump's warning to Pelosi that "the China mess is the last thing she should be involved in - She will only make it worse".

"Everything she touches," he wrote on his social media outlet Truth Social "turns to Chaos, Disruption, and 'C***.'"

Chinese, US warships keep watch amid tensions over a Pelosi Taiwan visit

On Chinese social media angry comments and threats to intercept Pelosi's plane were among the most popular topics on Saturday.

A Weibo page for posts with the hashtag "if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, Chinese military would not just sit and watch" was read 830 million times by 6pm, although only 30,000 comments appeared. It has long been a practice for mainland internet censors to manage comments online to prevent public opinion from getting out of control.

Another page for a post with a hashtag that China would take resolute measures if Pelosi visited Taiwan was read over 100 million times by Saturday afternoon.

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The official Weibo account of The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference quoted anonymous observers as saying that if Pelosi's plane entered Taiwan airspace without Beijing's permission, that could be seen as trespassing on China's territory and Beijing could respond with "the fiercest countermeasures".

Hu Xijin, former editor of state-owned tabloid Global Times, made even more extreme comments on Weibo, saying: "If US fighter jets escort Pelosi's plane into Taiwan, it is an invasion.

"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."

Twitter removed comments urging Chinese jets to shoot down Pelosi's plane. Photo: Xinhua © Provided by South China Morning Post Twitter removed comments urging Chinese jets to shoot down Pelosi's plane. Photo: Xinhua

Hu said on Weibo that a similar post on Twitter has been banned. He added that if Pelosi takes a civilian plane to Taiwan, then that would also give the PLA fighter jets a chance to land in Taiwan as well.

Chinese officials have not made any public comments about military actions, but off the record they have been hinting at the possibility to foreign businessmen and journalists.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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