In roughly 24 hours, Chinese officials and propagandists went from warning of a powder keg to pleading for patience as Beijing struggled to articulate a cohesive response to Nancy Pelosi’s landmark trip to Taiwan.
Ahead of Pelosi’s visit, the first by a US House speaker in 25 years, President Xi Jinping warned the Biden administration would get “burned” while nationalist Chinese commentators suggested she would “ignite the powder keg.”
Yet after Pelosi landed safely, stayed the night in Taipei and hailed US-Taiwan ties in a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, China’s tone shifted from belligerent to defensive. At a briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying asked the public to give the government more time to follow through on threats to punish the US and Taiwan.
“We will do what we have said,” she said. “So please have some patience about that.”