Newt Gingrich went to Taiwan as House speaker in 1997.

There is precedent for a House speaker to visit Taiwan and stir up geopolitical tensions: Newt Gingrich did in 1997.

That year, Mr. Gingrich, a Republican from Georgia who served as a speaker from 1995 to 1999, made Taiwan the last stop of a trip that includes visits to China, Japan and Korea.

His trip to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, only lasted three hours. But it is still criticized by Beijing.

During the visit, Mr. Gingrich met with Chairman Lee Teng-hui and gave a speech at the American Institute in Taiwan, an unofficial US embassy. In the speech, he exceeded the State Department formulas at the time regarding America’s security commitments to the island.

“It is important to make it clear to both the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan that if Beijing seeks to unify Taiwan with the mainland by force or threat, the United States will use all means necessary to prevent that,” said Gingrich.

Mr. Gingrich also speaking bluntly is rare for an American official On Taiwan during a trip to China a few days earlier, he said at one point that he thought Chinese leaders “are now more aware that we will defend Taiwan if it comes under military attack.” “.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman at the time, Shen Guofang, declined to criticize Mr. Gingrich during the trip or shortly after he left. A Clinton administration official in Washington said Mr Gingrich “speaks for himself”.

But after his speech in Taiwan, Mr. Shen publicly accused Gingrich of making “incorrect” statements and called on the United States to join hands on foreign policy.

Mr. Gingrich told Fox News this week that the choreography of his 1997 trip to Taiwan was the result of compromise between the Clinton administration and the Chinese government. Beijing had rejected plans to visit the island shortly after China, he said, so officials in Washington and Beijing had “drawn out an agreement” in which he would travel from China to Japan first. on arrival in Taiwan.

“That’s it,” he said. “They’ve stepped back.”

Anecdotes cannot be independently verified.

Gingrich also said in the interview that took place before Ms. Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday night, that he hoped she would not abandon her plans to visit. “You have to stand up against the Chinese communists, otherwise they will see it as a sign of weakness, and they will be even more aggressive,” he said.

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