DHARAMSALA, 31 Aug: Despite China’s sharp criticism, a delegation headed by the Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil landed in Taiwan on Sunday for a six-day visit — the highest-level exchange between the two countries to cement economic and cultural ties.
Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib and more than 80 representatives from government, business and academia were received by the Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu as the landed in the island on a flight chartered from Taiwanese flag carrier China Airlines.
The visit was on the itinerary of Vystrcil’s predecessor, Jaroslav Kubera who passed away in January earlier this year and “China’s pressure, including a warning from the Chinese Embassy against congratulating Tsai on her reelection, contributed to his decision to travel to the island,” AP quoted Vystrcil as saying.
In a veiled shot at China, Vystrcil has said upon his arrival in Taiwan that “Freedom and democracy are the main basis of prosperity.”
Vystrcil’s trip will surely infuriate Beijing as he is due to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen who is detested by Beijing for her assertions of the island’s independence and address Taiwan’s parliament before leaving on Friday.
Reacting furiously over the visit that China resolutely objected to, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi has said that Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil will “pay a heavy price,” as he declared there would be retribution.
“The Chinese government and Chinese people won’t take a laissez-faire attitude or sit idly by, and will make him pay a heavy price for his short-sighted behaviour and political opportunism,” Wang was quoted as saying in a statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday.
Beijing claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and views it as a wayward province to be reunified with China by force if necessary.
This is not the first insistence of Czech not bowing to Beijing’s objection. On 14 January earlier this year, Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and Taiwan signed a “sister city” agreement hard on the heels of the former cancelling one with Beijing in October 2019.