Pelosi: Pentagon fears China will shoot down its plane if it flies to Taiwan

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hinted Thursday that the military feared its plane could be shot down by China if it flew to Taiwan. File photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License picture

July 22 (UPI) — US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has hinted that the Pentagon fears her plane “will be shot down” by the Chinese if she makes a supposed visit to Taiwan this summer.

The California Democrat is planning a trip to the self-governing island next month, according to a Financial Times report earlier this week, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing.

Pelosi declined to confirm the trip at a weekly press conference on Thursday, saying “I never discuss my travel plans.”

“You never even hear me say if I’m going to London because it’s a matter of security,” she said.

Pelosi was asked Wednesday about a comment by US President Joe Biden that the military “thinks it’s not a good idea” for her to visit the island of 23 million people.

“I think what the president was saying was maybe the military was afraid that our plane would be shot down or something by the Chinese,” Pelosi replied.

“I don’t know exactly,” she added. “I heard it anecdotally, but I didn’t hear it from the president.”

After warning against a visit by Pelosi earlier this week, Beijing again addressed the proposed trip on Thursday, saying it “would have a serious negative impact on the political underpinnings of China-US relations.”

“If the US side insists on making this visit, China will act firmly to respond resolutely and take countermeasures,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press briefing. “We mean what we say.”

Wang did not specify what the countermeasures would be. An opinion piece published Tuesday in China’s state-run Global Times suggested that Beijing establish a no-fly zone over Taiwan and “escort” Pelosi’s flight with fighter jets. Chinese Air Force.

Pelosi’s visit would be the first to Taiwan by a Speaker of the House since Republican Newt Gingrich met with then-Speaker Lee Teng-hui in 1997. She was rumored to have made the trip in April during a scheduled tour of Asia, then drawing a similar response from China, but his travel plans were canceled after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Beijing views Taiwan as a capricious province and has pledged to take it back by force if necessary.

The democratic island may have become the central point of contention in relations between Beijing and Washington, as concern over China’s intentions grows in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. in its fifth month.

Pelosi on Thursday called China’s threat to Taiwan a “very important issue.”

“It’s important for us to show our support for Taiwan,” she said, but added that Washington had not advocated for Taiwanese independence.

“It’s up to Taiwan to decide,” Pelosi said.

Under the “One China” policy, Washington recognizes Beijing’s position that there is only one Chinese government. However, the United States has a “strong unofficial relationship” with Taiwan – including arms sales – and does not concede China’s sovereignty over the island.

China has stepped up military provocations in recent months, with frequent incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone. Beijing has also recently amplified its claims of sovereignty over the Taiwan Strait.

The United States responded by holding joint naval exercises with allies in the region and by sailing warships in freedom of navigation exercises.

On Tuesday, the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold passed through the Taiwan Strait on its third crossing in a week of international waters claimed by China.

Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the Chinese army’s Eastern Theater Command, called the move a “provocation” and called the United States a “disruptor of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”. .

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