Gingrich: I was wrong about China

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) admitted Friday that his stance toward China was wrong.

Gingrich told Hill.TV that like many conservatives at the time, he was initially in favor of the country joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, but argued that China gradually started playing by different rules that were “driven by fundamentally different beliefs than we thought they were.”

“We thought getting them into a rules-based system would gradually permeate their culture and that’d be a big step in the right direction — that was all wrong,” Gingrich, who served as House Speaker in the 1990s, told Hill.TV. “The Chinese, in fact, decided to corrupt the WTO rather than be changed by it.”

Gingrich said it was this realization on China’s approach to trade that served as the inspiration behind his new book, “Trump vs. China: America’s Greatest Challenge.”

“I decided I really wanted to put together a book — partly for myself — but also because I thought it was useful to have somebody who had been part of the consensus on China to say, ‘Wait a second, here’s what went wrong, here’s people like me to change their opinions and this is how big the challenge is going to be,’ ” he said.

The conservative figure also expressed confidence in Trump’s ability to reach a trade deal with China, predicting that the president will refocus his attention on the issue if re-elected.

“I have every confidence about the year two or three of his next term he’ll be right back at the Chinese again,” he told Hill.TV.

Gingrich’s comments come after Trump announced earlier this month that the U.S. had come to a “very substantial phase one deal” with China on trade after months of back and forth between the two countries.

Though the two sides are still hammering out the details, both governments have hinted that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could sign the the limited trade agreement when they meet in Chile next month.

Trump has already heralded the deal as a victory, tweeting earlier this month that it was “the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers.”

Bloomberg reported Thursday that China plans to buy least $20 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products if it moves forward on a partial trade deal with Washington.

—Tess Bonn

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