Update(11:28am): The influential former editor and current commentator for China's state-run English daily Global Times issued a shocking comment hours into Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Hu Xijin weighed in on Thursday's PLA fighter jet breach of Taiwan's air defense identification zone by saying "Get used to it. There may be more PLA aircraft fly[ing] there tomorrow."
Get used to it. There may be more PLA aircraft fly there tomorrow. https://t.co/viU4vlEye5— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) February 24, 2022
While the prominent state-linked English language pundit is known for trolling the West and denouncing Washington policy in Taiwan and the South China Sea broadly, he also typically echoes the thinking of top CCP officials in Beijing.
Did he just warn the West that China is about to move on Taiwan - at a "perfect storm" moment that all eyes are on the war in Ukraine? Did Putin just set the example for near-term Chinese military action?
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Taiwan was quick to issue official statement vehemently condemning Russia's early morning launch of war on Ukraine. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou denounced the attack on Ukraine's sovereignty, at a tense moment that Beijing continues to eye Taiwan as its own territory.
"Ukrainian cities like Kyiv has been attacked by gunfire, leading to fears of a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine," she said. "We call on all sides to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose the use of violence or coercion to change the status quo."
At the same time China's initial reaction noticeably failed to condemn the invasion, with the Chinese foreign ministry calling for all sides to "exercise restraint" - while ultimately castigating the United States for "fueling fire" in the build-up of tensions.
According to a review of a lengthy press briefing in Beijing, the ministry spokesperson refused over and over again to acknowledge an "invasion" of a sovereign country by Russia:
In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing that went on for more than 90 minutes, spokesperson and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying dodged more than 11 questions regarding Russia's actions in Ukraine. They included repeated inquiries on whether Beijing would consider Russia's acts an invasion and whether they violated Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Hua added that China would begin importing Russian wheat, a move that could ease the impact of Western sanctions on Russia.
She called the conflict "very complicated" while urging that the legitimate "security concerns of all parties" must be addressed - which is a clear acknowledgement that China takes of utmost seriousness Moscow's rejection of NATO expansion.
According to the exchange with reporters:
After questions from multiple media on whether China considered Russia's moves an invasion, Hua asked reporters, "Why are you obsessed with this question?"
"You can ask the US side. They keep fueling fires... You can ask them if they have any plans to put out the fire."
Meanwhile on Thursday as the world's attention is fully on Ukraine and Putin's "shock and awe" war unfolding there, Taiwan's air force scrambled fighters to warn away nine Chinese PLA aircraft that breached its air defense identification zone.
2020: China takes Hong Kong. The West does nothing.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 24, 2022
2021: The Taliban are handed Afghanistan by the West.
2022: Russia takes Ukraine.
The West is in retreat.
And everyone with half a brain knows that Taiwan is next on the menu.
While Chinese aircraft entering the area off the island's south is nothing new, and has occurred on a weekly basis for more than the past year, it's led to speculation that China could take a page out of Putin's playbook and mount its own rapid overwhelming attack. This after the Communist Party takeover of Hong Kong via its local puppets has already long been a done deal.