Chinese government propagandist Hu Xijin said on Saturday he deleted a tweet warning of military retaliation if US military jets escort House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her visit to Taiwan.
However, he nixed the tweet only after Twitter blocked his account.
Pelosi, third in the line of presidential succession, after President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, started a trip to Asia on Saturday morning, with official stops planned in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
It’s widely speculated that she will also stop in Taiwan, which Communist China maintains is a breakaway province, not an independent country, and has no right to conduct foreign relations. The two split in 1949 after a civil war that saw the Community Party take over mainland China.
Pelosi has refused to confirm the reports that she will visit the self-governing island. If the visit takes place, she would be the highest-ranking American elected official to visit Taiwan since 1997.
While he deleted the tweet about shooting Pelosi down, Hu Xijin continued to tweet comments about the trip.
“If Pelosi really visits Taiwan as planned, the Tsai Ing-wen [Taiwanese] authorities are accomplice,” he posted Saturday.
“The mainland will definitely carry out severe punishment actions on Taiwan at the same time. The unbearable consequences will fall on Tsai authorities.”
The Chinese military, meanwhile, conducted live-fire exercises Saturday off its coast opposite Taiwan as the speaker was flying east.
The People’s Liberation Army conducted the drills near the Pingtan islands off Fujian province, the official Xinhua News Agency announced.
The one-sentence announcement gave no indication whether the exercises would include missiles, fighter planes or other weapons.
In a Thursday phone call, President Xi Jinping warned President Joe Biden against “external interference” in Beijing’s dealings with the island.