Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil will “pay a heavy price” for making an official trip to Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province ineligible for state-to-state relations, said the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister on Monday, reports Reuters.
Wang Yi, in Germany for the last stop in his European tour, warned of imminent retribution.
“The Chinese government and Chinese people won’t take a laissez-faire attitude or sit idly by, and will make him pay a heavy price for his short-sighted behaviour and political opportunism,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Wang as saying.
The move by Vystrcil and the “anti-China forces behind him” was slammed as an “open provocation” that the government and people of China would not tolerate.
No details were given by the official regarding how Beijing would react.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek expressed hope that an explanation from the Chinese side for the strongly worded statement would be forthcoming, despite the government having disapproved of the trip by the member of the opposition and one of the highest-ranking politicians of the central European nation.
“I expect that Chinese side will explain them to us. The trip has of course an impact on relations with China, but I think that this has crossed the line,” said Petricek, according to the CTK news agency.
Milos Vystrcil made a statement, underscoring that Wang’s comments constituted interference in the Czech Republic’s internal affairs.
“We are a free country seeking to have good relationships with all countries and I believe this will be the case in the future irrespective of the statement of the Minister. And let me repeat again – this visit is by no means meant to politically confront anyone,” he was quoted as saying.
It was Minister Wu's honor to welcome @SenatCZ President @Vystrcil_Milos & the #CzechRepublic🇨🇿 delegation to #Taiwan🇹🇼. We wish the 90-strong group of freedom- & democracy-loving friends from the #EU all the best for the historic 6-day visit. #TaiwanCzechia2020 #DefendDemocracy pic.twitter.com/qvr0q15YFx— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 30, 2020
While stopping short of directly commenting China’s statement in connection with the Czech politician’s visit, Taiwan Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua emphasized that the Czech Republic and Taiwan were “free and democratic countries”.
“We have the same values as the Czechs,” she told reporters.
Trip that ‘Breaches Sovereignty’
Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday along with 90 entrepreneurs for a week-long business trip originally planned by his predecessor, Jaroslav Kubera, who died in January. His schedule includes a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and an address to Taiwan’s parliament on Friday.
I'm privileged to host the dinner welcoming @SenatCZ President @Vystrcil_Milos & the #CzechRepublic🇨🇿 delegation to #Taiwan🇹🇼. We're ready for the full schedule beginning tomorrow! JW #TaiwanCzechia2020 #DefendDemocracy pic.twitter.com/9Ov3uJ7DQa— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 30, 2020
The visit, criticized by Czech President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who said the country adhered to a one-China policy, was ostensibly aimed at promoting business links with Taiwan.
“You cannot accept being someone’s servant, because if you do, then when you obey once, it’s assumed that you obey every time,” Vystrcil was cited by Reuters as saying ahead of the trip.
Earlier on Sunday, the Chinese embassy in Prague condemned the Taiwan visit by the speaker of the Czech parliament’s upper house as a violation of the one-China policy.
"For his own political gains he insisted on a visit to Taiwan, in what is blatant interference in China's domestic affairs and a serious breach of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity", the embassy said.