Beijing threatened to retaliate against Czech companies with operations in China if a senior Czech lawmaker went ahead with a planned visit to Taiwan, according to a diplomatic letter seen by reporters.
The Jan. 10 letter, which was sent by China’s embassy in Prague to the Czech president’s office, suggested that Czech companies operating in China, such as Volkswagen subsidiary Skoda Auto or lender Home Credit Group, would suffer if Czech Senate Speaker Jaroslav Kubera visited Taiwan.
Kubera, 72, died of a heart attack on Jan. 20, before his trip had been due to take place, but the letter, written in Czech, reveals how explicit Beijing was about the possible consequences if the visit had gone ahead.
“Czech companies whose representatives visit Taiwan with Chairman Kubera will not be welcome in China or with the Chinese people,” the letter said.
“Czech companies who have economic interests in China will have to pay for the visit to Taiwan by Chairman Kubera,” the letter said, adding that “China is the largest foreign market for many Czech companies like Skoda Auto, Home Credit Group, Klaviry Petrof and others.”
Chinese officials in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Czech president’s spokesman confirmed the office had received the letter, but did not comment on its content.
In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized China’s warning to Prague.
“China’s business pressure on the Czech Republic proves that ‘One Belt, One Road’ is a predatory policy tool, bringing only counter-effects to the global business order,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
Kubera was the country’s second-most senior official after Czech President Milos Zeman.
Zeman and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis had expressed concern that Kubera’s planned visit would lead China to retaliate against the nation’s business community.
The Senate’s office said Kubera had been aware of the letter and its content after receiving a copy at a regular meeting of top Czech foreign policy officials.
The Chinese letter warned that Kubera’s trip would be seen as a “serious breach” of Beijing’s “one China” principle.
Babis’ government has said repeatedly it adheres to that principle.
However, Sino-Czech diplomatic ties cooled last year when city authorities in Prague showed support for Tibet and demanded changes to an intercity partnership agreement with Beijing over a reference to China’s policy on Taiwan.
The agreement was eventually canceled, and Prague instead signed a cooperation deal with Taipei, infuriating Beijing.
Beijing had already been upset after the Czech cybersecurity watchdog in December 2018 warned about the risks of using network technology provided by Chinese telecoms equipment makers Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and ZTE Corp (中興).
A Home Credit spokesman said he had not been aware of the letter, while Skoda could not be reached immediately for comment.
Czech senators yesterday elected Czech Senator Milos Vystrcil to succeed Kubera as speaker.
Additional reporting by staff writer
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with