Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil on Friday told local media that he would visit Taiwan by autumn, despite pressure from Beijing. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the announcement.
In the Czech Republic, the position of the senate president is the second-highest official post after the president.
The Czech Senate on May 20 passed a resolution supporting a visit by the senate president to Taiwan in a 50-1 vote.
Photo: Screen grab from Milos Vystrcil’s Facebook page
Former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera’s planned visit to Taiwan in February was called off after he died of a heart attack on Jan. 20.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in March called on China to replace Chinese Ambassador to the Czech Republic Zhang Jianmin (張建敏) after the embassy sent a threatening letter to Czech authorities saying that Beijing would retaliate against Czech companies operating in China if a senior Czech lawmaker visited Taiwan.
Kubera’s family during a media interview in April accused Zhang and Czech President Milos Zeman — who is considered a supporter of China — of contributing to Kubera’s heart attack with their letters of warning.
In an article published on Friday by the Reflex weekly magazine, Vystrcil said he has made up his mind about visiting Taiwan by autumn, adding that he would reveal details of his plan at a news conference on Tuesday.
Beijing’s continued pressure and Zeman’s pro-China stance motivated him to go ahead with the visit, the magazine quoted Vystrcil as saying.
The visit might hurt the Czech Republic, especially businesspeople, he said, adding that the hoped to uphold the values represented by late Czech president Vaclav Havel and learn from Taiwan in related issues.
Ministry deputy spokesman Tsuei Ching-lin (崔靜麟) said that Vystrcil is welcome to visit Taiwan at any time to deepen collaboration between the two sides.
The ministry would offer an explanation once details of the visit become available, he added.
Although Taiwan and the Czech Republic have no formal ties, they have boosted their collaborative efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 26, Academia Sinica President James Liao (廖俊智) held a video conference with Czech Academy of Sciences President Eva Zazimalova to discuss collaborative efforts in epidemic prevention.
The Czech Republic was among the first recipients of Taiwan’s donation of masks announced on April 1, with Vystrcil and Czech Chamber of Deputies Speaker Radek Vondracek later that month holding ceremonies to mark the reception of the masks.
On April 1, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Prague and the Czech Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei also issued a joint statement about working together against the novel coronavirus — following a similar one issued by Taiwan and the US in March.
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