China threatens retaliation-Czech officials visit Taiwan

The president of the Czech Senate has called freedom and democracy the idea of prosperity during a visit to Taiwan that has drawn vows of retaliation from China

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Czech Republic’s top legislator on Monday told an economic forum in Taiwan that freedom and democracy are the idea of prosperity, on the second day of a visit that has drawn vows of retaliation from Beijing.

Senate President Milos Vystrcil is leading a delegation of 89 leaders from the Central European country’s political, business, artistic and academic circles on a visit aimed toward boosting contacts.

Taiwan relies on such exchanges to counter China’s efforts to isolate the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory, to be annexed by military unit if it deems necessary. Like about 15 countries, the Czech Republic has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but maintains robust informal contacts.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said Beijing wouldn’t “sit idly by and abandoning of the general public provocation of the Czech Senate speaker and therefore the anti-China forces behind him.”

“They must pay an important price for his or her short-sighted behavior and political opportunism,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

Vystrcil spoke at an economic forum where the 2 sides signed agreements on high-tech manufacturing and environmental management.

“I believe that without the likelihood of free cooperation between entrepreneurs and employers, there’ll be no freedoms and democracy within the Czech Republic or Taiwan, because freedom and democracy are the idea of prosperity,” Vystrcil told participants.

Taiwan Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua said the delegation’s visit was bringing real economic benefits to the 2 sides.

Wang said the visit also stood as “proof to the planet that regardless of how big the pressure is, how difficult things is, nothing can stop Taiwan and therefore the Czech Republic’s determination to defend freedom, democracy and protect human rights.”

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Taiwan’s high-tech companies are major investors within the Czech Republic , while the island’s robust democracy marks a stark contrast to China’s authoritarian Communist Party system.

During his visit, Vystrcil is to satisfy with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is detested by Beijing for her assertions of the island’s independence.

Vystrcil’s six-day visit to Taiwan was prompted partially by complaints from the Czech side that China was introducing unwanted political elements into their relations.

Prague and Beijing severed sister city relations after China refused to get rid of language from the agreement dictating that the city’s government endorse the “one-China principle” that defines Taiwan as a part of China.

Vystrcil’s predecessor, Jaroslav Kubera, had planned to visit Taiwan, angering pro-China Czech President Milos Zeman.

Kubera died in January before making the trip and Vystrcil said China’s pressure, including a warning from the Chinese Embassy against congratulating Tsai on her reelection, contributed to his decision to visit the island.

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