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• China’s government did not say it would shoot down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane. The statement came from a commentator for a Chinese newspaper.
• China’s government said Monday that its military would "not sit idly by" if Pelosi visits Taiwan.
With tensions running high over a potential visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who-said-what misinformation is spreading on social media.
"China threatens to shoot Nancy Pelosi’s plane down if she visits Taiwan," says a July 31 post on Instagram. It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The statement did not originate with China’s government. It was tweeted by Hu Xijin, former chief editor of and now a commentator for the Global Times, a Chinese nationalist newspaper. He later deleted the tweet after Twitter blocked his account.
Pelosi has said her multicountry trip to Asia might include a stop in Taiwan, to show support for the self-governing island that China views as its territory. Her potential visit comes amid worries about Chinese aggression against Taiwan and as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues.
China has strenuously warned against such a visit, and said its military would "not sit idly by" if it were to happen, Reuters reported Aug. 1. On July 31, as The New York Times reported, a Chinese air force spokesman, without specifying dates, said his country’s "fighter jets would fly around Taiwan to demonstrate its ability to defend its territory."
However, "American officials doubt the Chinese military will interfere with Ms. Pelosi’s ability to land safely in Taiwan, betting that Beijing does not want a direct confrontation with the United States," The New York Times reported Aug. 1. "But they say it is possible that Chinese planes will ‘escort’ Ms. Pelosi’s plane, as a demonstration of control over the air routes."
Though China has expressed emphatically that Pelosi should not visit Taiwan — warning that "whoever plays with fire will get burned" — it was Hu who tweeted that if Pelosi visited Taiwan, "Our fighter jets should deploy all obstructive tactics. If those are still ineffective, I think it is okay too to shoot down Pelosi's plane," Reuters reported July 30.
Hu then deleted the tweet "to unlock his Twitter account, which had been blocked as the tweet was deemed by Twitter to have violated the platform's rules and had to be removed by the account holder," according to Reuters.
Though some media accounts gave the impression that Hu is a Chinese government mouthpiece, that is not supported by evidence, according to U.S.-China Perception Monitor, a not-for-profit operated by the China Focus of the Carter Center, a nongovernmental organization.
"Despite Hu’s grinding patriotism and total devotion to the (Chinese Communist) Party, the Global Times is far more than a Party mouthpiece," the not-for-profit reported. "It does not necessarily reflect the views of the government or Party."
An Instagram post said, "China threatens to shoot Nancy Pelosi’s plane down if she visits Taiwan."
The statement did not originate with China’s government. It was from a tweet by Hu Xijin, former chief editor of and now commentator for the Chinese nationalist newspaper Global Times. He later deleted the tweet.
Some media accounts have attempted to portray Hu as speaking for the Chinese government, but evidence does not support the claim that the government sanctioned his comments.
We rate this claim False.
Bloomberg, "Pelosi Is Expected to Visit Taiwan, Ramping Up US-China Tensions," Aug. 1, 2022
Instagram post, July 31, 2022
New York Times, "Pelosi Is expected to go to Taiwan, Biden administration officials say," July 31, 2022
New York Times, "U.S. warns China not to turn Pelosi’s expected trip to Taiwan into a ‘crisis,’" Aug. 1, 2022
Reuters, "China warns its military will 'not sit idly by' if Pelosi visits Taiwan," Aug. 1. 2022
Reuters, "Chinese nationalist commentator deletes Pelosi tweet after Twitter blocks account," July 30, 2022
U.S.-China Perception Monitor, "Who isHu Xijin?" accessed Aug. 1, 2022
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