Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil would “pay a heavy price” for violating the so-called “One China” principle by making an official visit to Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday with a delegation of 90 people including the mayor of Prague on a trip designed to promote business links with Taiwan, which China claims as its own and tries to isolate on the world stage.
He said the Czech Republic would not bow to objections from Beijing, which considers the democratically-ruled island a breakaway province.
China’s state media quoted Wang saying the visit was a “provocation” and that Taiwan was an “inseparable part of China”.
It is the second high-profile visit by a foreign delegation to the island in a fortnight, after a visit by US Health Secretary Alex Azar.
Vystrcil is expected to deliver a speech in Taiwan’s parliament and meet President Tsai Ing-wen during the five-day trip, which continues until September 4.
On behalf of the people of #Taiwan, I’d like to extend a sincere welcome to #CzechRepublic @SenatCZ President @Vystrcil_Milos & all the members of the delegation. Our nations share many core values & we look forward to furthering cooperation in all areas. pic.twitter.com/qEKXB3MLPH
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) August 30, 2020
Freedom, democracy, equality & respect were high on the menu at the banquet hosted by Minister Wu for @SenatCZ President @Vystrcil_Milos. Our thanks to the #CzechRepublic🇨🇿 delegation for visiting #Taiwan🇹🇼 & putting friendship before politics. #TaiwanCzechia2020 #DefendDemocracy pic.twitter.com/dhFjZUCPi7
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 30, 2020
In a post on Twitter, Tsai noted that Taiwan and the Czech Republic shared “many core values”. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who met the delegation at the airport, thanked the Czechs for “putting friendship before politics” and used the hashtag #defenddemocracy.
China has sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, ramping up pressure since Tsai came to power in 2016. A number of countries that did have formal relations with Taiwan have shifted their allegiance to China and the island now has official ties with just 15 nations.
Tsai won a second term in office in January in a landslide victory.
Tsai has portrayed the island as a progressive democratic ally to other nations hoping to push back against Beijing’s authoritarianism, helped by Taiwan’s defeat of its coronavirus outbreak and its global shipments of personal protection equipment.
In a speech to an Australian think-tank last Thursday, Tsai described Taiwan as being “on the front line of freedom and democracy” as China cracks down on dissent in nearby Hong Kong and elsewhere.