The recent Taiwan tour by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of US’s House of Representatives, despite China’s ‘warning’, has escalated the decades-long tension between Beijing and Taipei. Several unsubstantiated videos have flooded the internet claiming to show Chinese ‘retort’ to Pelosi’s visit. In this backdrop, a video showing a night sky, lit up by a barrage of missiles fired from what appears to be a coast line, is being widely shared by social media users, claiming to show “China welcoming Pelosi with fireworks.” Newschecker found the video to be old and the claim to be untrue.
The 45-seconds video is being shared widely on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Before Pelosi’s Taiwan tour, President Xi Jinping had warned his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in a phone call last week against “external interference” in China’s dealings with the island nation. Though Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war, Beijing still considers the island nation to be its rightful territory. Reportedly, China’s official Xinhua news agency said that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was conducting “live-fire exercises” near the Pingtan islands off Fujian province from 8am to 9pm on Saturday (July 30), days ahead of Pelosi’s visit.
China was also quick to launch a large-scale military drill near Taiwan following the arrival of the US House of Representatives Speaker on Tuesday night. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would also conduct expanded live-fire exercises from August 4 to 7 in six different areas around the island. Taiwan said that the drills violated United Nations rules, invaded its territorial space and amounted to a blockade of its air and sea. Adding that it would respond appropriately.
Newschecker scanned through the comment sections of the social media posts, where a user @bintaoqq shared a screenshot of the same video posted on Chinese social media network Weibo. The timestamp on the screenshot indicated that the video was posted on November 13, 2020 on Weibo.
Several other users had also pointed out that the video is old.
On further research, Newschecker was able to access the post on Weibo with the help of VPN. The post dated November 13, 2020, carried a longer version of the same video that is going viral.
The Chinese text in the post roughly translates to, “The Taiwanese Matsu residents photographed the Taiwan Army live-fire drill (every year) a few days ago. Taiwan netizens pointed out that it should have been filmed on Niujiaoling Environmental Protection Road, Nangan Township, Matsu Islands. I also saw someone in the comment area saying: ” This kind of firepower can scare the other side!”
We then conducted a keyword search on the words “Taiwan Military Drill”, “Taiwan Army live-fire drill 2020,” “Taiwan Army Drill Matsu Island”, “Taiwan Army Live exercise Netizens watch” in Chinese, using Google Translate. This led us to a video streaming website called ‘bilibili.com’, where we found the same viral video shared on November 13, 2020.
The description of the video reads, “Recently, residents of Matsu took pictures of the Taiwanese army’s live-fire drill on the main road. This scene attracted many nearby residents, who stopped to watch and take pictures. However, the shells at the scene flew directly over the heads of the people and hit the sea not far away, causing netizens to call out the danger. More netizens directly satirised: Are you sure it’s not a fireworks show?”
A Taiwanese news outlet also reported on the military exercise in November 2020.
Newschecker could not independently verify if the video was indeed from a military exercise conducted in 2020. However, our findings prove that the video is at least 2 years old and unrelated to Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan.
Viral posts claiming to show “China welcoming Nancy Pelosi” with fireworks are false. The video dates back to at least 2020.
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