Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Tuesday called China’s threats over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) trip to Taiwan a “bluff.”
Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends” that he dealt with a similar situation when he visited China and Taiwan in 1997. Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit the self-governing island.
He said China invited him to visit and make speeches in Shanghai and Beijing, but they “went crazy” when they learned he also planned to visit Taiwan. He said his national security adviser told the Chinese ambassador that the Chinese government does not decide where the American House Speaker travels, and if Gingrich needs to decide, he would choose to go to Taiwan and not China.
Gingrich said the two sides worked out a deal with Gingrich would travel to China to give his speeches but then go to Japan before visiting Taiwan so he would not go directly from China to Taiwan.
“They backed down,” he said. “Their current bluff is just that.”
The Chinese government has warned Pelosi against visiting Taiwan during her trip to multiple Asian countries, saying it would violate the One China policy and that China would “take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The United States recognizes China as the legitimate Chinese government and maintains a position of strategic ambiguity with respect to Taiwan, pledging to support the democratic island but not promising direct engagement in the event of a Chinese invasion.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the U.S. should not be intimidated by rhetoric and asserted that Pelosi’s visit is still in line with U.S. policy.
Gingrich said the Chinese government does all it can to “rattle” the Taiwanese people, and he hopes Pelosi goes.
Pelosi has not officially confirmed her plans to visit Taiwan, but Taiwanese media report that she will arrive Tuesday evening.