Gingrich defends Trump's Taiwan call

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday defended Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE after the president-elect took a call from Taiwan's leader.

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"If the leader of a free people call you, why wouldn't you take the call? This whole State Department mythology that we have to somehow let the Chinese dictate to us is nonsense," Gingrich said on Fox & Friends.

"I thought it was a good signal to the world that Donald Trump is going to be his own person and that if the Chinese want to deal with the United States, they're going to have to actually deal with the United States. They're not going to be able to intimidate us."

In speaking with President Tsai Ing-wen, Trump became the first president or president-elect since Jimmy Carter to have a conversation with Taiwan's leader. 

Carter broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which Beijing views as a breakaway province, as part of the one-China policy. The policy effectively dictates that countries either recognize diplomatically the People's Republic of China, on the mainland, or the Republic of China, on Taiwan, but not both. 

U.S. presidents in both parties, from Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonRNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' Booker dismisses early surveys: 'If you're polling ahead right now, you should worry' Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama meets with Greta Thunberg: 'One of our planet's greatest advocates' Trump: Cokie Roberts 'never treated me nicely' but 'was a professional' Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' MORE, had abided by the policy, though the U.S. continues to sell arms to Taiwan. 

Some conservatives praised Trump for holding the discussion with Tsai, who they noted represents a democratically elected government. Gingrich put himself solidly in that camp with his own comments.

"This is a democracy calling him. Somebody walks in and say, 'Hi, the elected leader of a democracy would like to chat with you,'" Gingrich said. "Somehow it's OK for the State Department to talk to any dictator on the planet, but an elected leader of a democracy, boy that's really dangerous."

The Washington Post reported Monday morning that the call had been long planned, though top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said Sunday the conversation was "just a phone call" and urged people not to read too much into it.

Trump has been critical of China throughout his presidential campaign, arguing that trade deals have hurt American jobs and workers.

China said Saturday it had raised a complaint over the call.