Pelosi says Taiwan trip ‘worth it,’ calls Xi ‘a scared bully’

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday defended her decision to visit Taiwan despite an aggressive response from China that has included live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

"Yes, it was worth it," she said in her first interview since returning from Asia last week on NBC’s "TODAY" show. "And what the Chinese are doing is what they usually do."

Pelosi, a California Democrat, said she had received "overwhelming bipartisan support" for her historic visit and reiterated that "China will not be allowed to isolate Taiwan." She also questioned why her trip has received so much attention, while a group of senators traveled to Taiwan several months earlier and it had no impact. "Did anybody make a fuss?" she asked.

"It was bipartisan, it was high-powered, including the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee — nobody said a word," she said. "If they can ignore a trip of five senators in a bipartisan way, why would they decide on my trip, that it would be different. … There’s something wrong with this picture."

The speaker said Chinese President Xi Jinping "has his own insecurities" and she won’t let him control the schedule of members of Congress. In a separate interview Tuesday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Pelosi said Xi is "in a fragile place."

"He has problems with his economy. He is acting like a scared bully," she said, adding that Xi is focused on getting re-elected.

China immediately denounced Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing claims as part of its territory, and announced it would launch "a series of targeted military actions as countermeasures" to "resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

China has said Pelosi’s visit violated the "one-China policy," which is Beijing’s claim to be the sole government of both mainland China and Taiwan.

The United States has long abided by the policy, which means it does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but does maintain an unofficial embassy on the island.