Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil and his delegation landed at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport at 11 a.m. on Sunday (Aug. 30), kicking off the highest-level and highest-profile visit to Taiwan by Czech government officials in the history of the countries’ bilateral relations.
Vystrcil will deliver a speech in Taiwan’s parliament and meet President Tsai Ing-wen during a five-day trip described by Taipei as standing up to “the intimidation of authoritarian China”.
“The aim of this trip is to show that the Czech Republic is a free, sovereign and democratic country, and our parliamentary diplomacy, in particular the Senate, wants this country to act as Vaclav Havel and [Foreign Minister] Jiri Dienstbier set out. This means defending our democratic principles and sovereignty. At the same time, to try to work together with all democratic countries, regardless of what anyone else wants us to do,” the senator said at a press conference before his trip.
Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory — vowing to one day seize it by force if necessary — and bristles at any moves by foreign governments to recognize or conduct official exchanges with Taipei.
“Such a visit is deliberately undermining the political foundation between China and the Czech Republic, we condemn such a despicable act,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday.
Czech President Milos Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), and Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek (Social Democrats) were among the Czech politicians who opposed the trip.
Jiri Ovcacek, the spokesperson for the Czech president’s office, said previously on Twitter that the president, prime minister and foreign minister said the visit was “not recommended.”
Earlier this year, the Chinese embassy in Prague sent threatening letters to Vystrcil’s predecessor, former Senate leader Jaroslav Kubera, after he announced his intention to visit Taiwan in an official capacity.
However, Kubera passed away before the trip.