French and German officials yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) over a threat he issued because of Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil’s visit to Taiwan.
Wang was on a five-nation visit to Europe to counter US pressure on issues such as democracy in Hong Kong and data security regarding apps such as TikTok and WeChat, which US President Donald Trump is seeking to ban.
However, Wang’s trip was overshadowed by comments he made on Monday, when he called Vystrcil’s visit to Taiwan a “provocation” and said that the senate president would “pay a heavy price.”
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll on Tuesday said that the Europe-China relationship must be based on the principle of dialogue and reciprocity, as well as mutual respect, and that the EU would not accept threats made to one its member countries, French media reported.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas echoed the sentiment, saying that while the EU welcomed foreign partnerships, it expected respect from them.
“Threats have no place here [in Europe],” Maas said.
Europe must be confident in its protection of its own interests and must avoid becoming a puppet of powerful nations like the US, Russia or China, he said, adding that he had communicated Germany’s support for the Czech Republic to Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomas Petricek.
Maas also criticized China over human rights abuses, including mass internment of Uighurs in camps in Xinjiang and its implementation of national security legislation in Hong Kong.
Maas called on China to redact the Hong Kong legislation, to implement universal suffrage in the territory and to uphold its “one China, two countries” framework that promises a high degree of autonomy to Hong Kong and Macau.
However, Wang said that Xinjiang and Hong Kong were China’s internal matters and that foreign interference was unwelcome.
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova also spoke out about Wang’s threat to Vystrcil, tweeting that “#Slovakia stands by the Czech Republic. #EU-#China relations are based on dialogue and mutual respect.”
Slovakia and the Czech Republic were previously one nation, Czechoslovakia, but separated in 1993 and today maintain close ties.
“Threats directed at one of the EU members and its representatives contradict the very essence of our partnership and as such are unacceptable,” Caputova wrote.
Meanwhile, European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said that he was “unhappy to see such diplomatic language,” and that China and the Czech Republic should engage in dialogue.
The EU and China would continue to discuss Taiwan, Hong Kong and other issues, Stano said.
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