Crossing ‚China’s Read Line‘: Czech Top Official’s Taiwan Visit Sparks Fury from Beijing

Written by | Monday, September 7th, 2020

China has denounced as an „open provocation“ the meeting of the Czech Senate president with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen and other top government officials on Thursday (3 September) during a rare trip by a foreign dignitary to the self-ruled democratic island. On this occasion, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen presented a medal for Jaroslav Kubera, the late predecessor of Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil, who died in January before making the trip. Vystrcil said China’s pressure, including a warning from the Chinese Embassy against congratulating Tsai on her re-election, contributed to his decision to travel to the island. Calling Kubera a “great friend”, Tsai applauded Vystrcil’s speech to Taiwan’s parliament earlier on Tuesday (1 September), saying his words “I’m a Taiwanese” had touched many hearts. For Vystrcil, his trip is also “to honour the spirit of late Czech President Vaclav Havel.” The Czech Republic, he added, “will cooperate with democratic countries, regardless of whether someone else wants it or not.”
Chinese leaders vented their fury about the Czech delegation’s top visit by heaping insults and threats, with the foreign ministry summoning the Czech Republic’s ambassador to lodge stern representations and saying the trip amounted to “flagrant support of Taiwan independence.” Also China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi hit at the Czech Senate leader, calling his visit an “open provocation“, adding that “You’ve crossed the line!” China claims Taiwan as its own territory and strongly objects to any official contact between other countries and the self-governing island. But the defiant Taiwanese president hit back by saying that „our actions are telling friends in Europe and all over the world, whether Taiwanese or Czechs, we will not succumb to oppression, will bravely speak up, actively participate in international affairs, and contribute our capabilities.”
If the Czech Republic’s relations with China had been fraying at least for over the past year, they have now hit a new low when Wang, speaking during a state visit to Germany earlier this week, referred to the highest-level meeting between Czech and Taiwanese officials to date as “an act of international treachery”. He also warned that Beijing “will make [Vystrcil] pay a heavy price for his short-sighted behaviour and political opportunism”. However, his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, said China’s threats against Mr Vystrcil were “not appropriate”, adding that “the EU acts ‘in close co-operation’ on foreign policy and treats its partners with respect?.?.?.?We expect exactly the same in return.” Meanwhile, Norbert Röttgen, a German lawmaker, demanded that Berlin speak out against Beijing’s behaviour and called on the EU to agree a common position that would “protect individual member states from Chinese retaliation”.

Article Categories:
Asia-Pacific · GLOBAL EUROPE

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.