Beijing’s Threats Against Czech Senator Visiting Taiwan Draws Rebuke From Czech Republic

August 31, 2020 Updated: August 31, 2020

TAIPEI, TaiwanCzech Republic Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said on Aug. 31 that he would summon the country’s Chinese envoy, after China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi made threats against a Czech official currently visiting Taiwan.

Milos Vystrcil, president of the Czech Senate, arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 30 to lead a delegation of 89 people that includes business leaders, several senators, scientists, journalists, and Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib.

Vystrcil’s trip to Taiwan has drawn Beijing’s ire, as it considers the island a part of its territory and opposes words or actions by foreign government officials that could bolster Taiwan’s status in the international community. Taiwan is a self-ruled island with its own democratically elected officials, military, and currency.

The regime in Beijing also criticized U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar when he visited Taiwan in early August.

Wang, speaking in Germany on Aug. 31, said Vystrcil will “pay a heavy price” for his official trip to Taiwan, according to Chinese state-run media. He added that Taiwan was an “inseparable part of China” and the visit was a “provocation.”

Petricek told reporters in Prague, “I expect the Chinese side to explain those words,” according to AFP, in response to Wang’s threats.

“Of course, the journey has an impact on our relationships with China, but I think this has gone too far,” he added.

Before Vystrcil’s arrival in Taiwan, the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic issued a statement on Aug. 28, accusing Vystrcil of making a “political calculation” with his trip to Taiwan. It claimed that the trip was a “serious violation of China’s internal affairs” and demanded that the Czech Republic abide by the “one-China principle.”

China’s hawkish state-run media Global Times also had harsh words for Vystrcil in an editorial published on Aug. 30, calling him a “political hooligan” who was “trampling on diplomatic civilization.”

On Aug. 31, Vystrcil gave a speech at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, during which he called on democratic countries to support each other. He also said the “most important common denominator” between people in Taiwan and the Czech Republic was that they chose to live freely and in democracy.

After his speech, Vystrcil held a media session and was asked about Wang’s comments.

Vystrcil responded by saying that everyone in his delegation made their own decision about visiting Taiwan, and that they all believed coming to Taiwan was the right thing to do. He added that there might not be benefits coming out of the visit in the short term, but the trip will be fruitful in the long run.

In the morning, Vystrcil was on hand to witness the signing of three memorandums of understanding wherein the two nations will cooperate on areas such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, smart manufacturing, and medicine.

Vystrcil and his delegation will stay in Taiwan until Sept. 4. Before leaving, Vystrcil is scheduled to meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, and take part in a forum hosted by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy on the island, according to local media.

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