Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil’s visit to Taiwan is “a despicable act” that undermines the “political foundation between China and the Czech Republic”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Thursday, Aug. 27, Reuters reported.
Beijing: Anti-Chinese forces to pay "a heavy price"
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said on Monday, Aug. 31, that Czech Republic and the "anti-Chinese forces" will "pay a heavy price for their short-sighted behaviour and political speculation (opportunism)", CGTN reported.
Wang, who was on a visit in Germany, added that whoever attempts to defy the One China policy is making themselves the "enemies of the 1.4 billion Chinese people and betraying international trust".
He also reiterated that Taiwan is "an inalienable part of China's territory".
Beijing considers the island to be a renegade province that has to be brought under its control even if force has to be used.
Vystrčil: Cannot accept being "someone's servant", not even once
Vystrčil's visit to the self-ruled island on Saturday, Aug. 29 -- a rare one taken by a senior foreign official -- was made despite China’s opposition.
Before making the trip, he told Reuters: “You cannot accept being someone’s servant, because if you do, then when you obey once, it’s assumed that you obey every time.”
He said the trip signifies the “values-based” foreign policy established by late President Vaclav Havel, who was a dissident that led the 1989 Velvet Revolution that defeated communism in the former Czechoslovakia.
Vystrčil's visit comes as Beijing is ramping up its charm offensive in Europe amid tensions with the United States.
China is facing a number of growing criticisms from the U.S. on its Hong Kong policy, its treatment of its Uyghur population, and its behaviour in the South China Sea.
Taiwan welcomed the Czech delegation
Vystrčil arrived at Taoyuan International Airport along with Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib and a delegation with more than 80 representatives from the country’s government, business and academic, The Associated Press reported.
They were greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu after arriving on a flight by Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines.
Representatives from both sides were seen wearing face masks with the Czech and Taiwanese flags printed on them.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen welcomed the Czech delegation with a tweet posted on Saturday, Aug. 30.
She said both “nations share many core values”, and they look forward to further cooperation.
On behalf of the people of #Taiwan, I’d like to extend a sincere welcome to #CzechRepublic @SenatCZ President @Vystrcil_Milos & all the members of the delegation. Our nations share many core values & we look forward to furthering cooperation in all areas. pic.twitter.com/qEKXB3MLPH— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) August 30, 2020
Vystrčil is expected to meet Tsai before he leaves on Friday, Sep. 4.
Kolas Yotaka, Tsai’s spokesperson, also clapped back at China with a tweet on Sunday, Aug. 30, that contrasted China's words with a quote from Vystrčil, before ending with “2020 is not all bad”.
Welcome dear Czech friends, please excuse the noisy neighbors.— Kolas Yotaka (@Kolas_Yotaka) August 30, 2020
China calls Czech visit to Taiwan a despicable act. President of Czech Senate says ‘you cannot accept being someone’s servant.’
2020 is not all bad.
Previously, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s trip to Taiwan in early August had also drawn Beijing’s ire.
The trip, made at a time of rapidly dwindling relations between China and the U.S., was the first taken by a senior U.S. Cabinet official to the island since Washington cut diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, choosing to formally recognise the government in Beijing instead.
Unfavourable public opinion towards China
A poll by Washington-based Pew Research Centre conducted in 2019 revealed that as many as 57 per cent of the respondents in Czech Republic had an unfavourable view of China.
The figure was the highest among the central and eastern European countries polled.
Czech President Milos Zeman, who has sought closer ties with Beijing, has been criticised for his China policy.
Relations between China and Czech Republic have already been rocky since 2019 when Prague local authorities expressed support for Taiwan and Tibet.
Top image via Tsai Ing-wen/Twitter