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Czech senate speaker, Prague mayor to visit Taiwan

Czech senate speaker, Prague mayor to visit Taiwan

A night view of the Xinyi shopping district in Taipei. (File photo: AFP/Daniel SHIH)

TAIPEI: A Czech delegation led by its senate speaker is set to arrive in Taiwan later this month, Taipei said on Thursday (Aug 13), following the highest-level US visit to the island that infuriated China.

READ: US Cabinet member lauds Taiwan's democracy during historic visit

Milos Vystrcil's delegation including the Prague mayor, the wife of late speaker Jaroslav Kubera and business leaders are scheduled to visit between Aug 30 and Sep 4, according to Taiwan's foreign ministry.

"The visit aims to highlight speaker Vystrcil's determination to uphold democracy and freedom, and that he would not succumb to the intimidation of authoritarian China," the ministry said in a statement.

Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory – vowing to one day seize it – and bristles at any moves by foreign governments to recognise or conduct official exchanges with Taipei.

China warned the United States not to "play with fire" on Wednesday as health chief Alex Azar wrapped up a three-day visit to Taiwan at a time of high tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The two powers have clashed over a range of issues from trade to military and the coronavirus pandemic.

Azar criticised China's handling of the pandemic and visited the makeshift shrine of a former Taiwanese president hated by the Communist Party leadership, during the highest-profile visit to Taiwan since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

Vystrcil is following in the footsteps of his predecessor Jaroslav Kubera, who died of a heart attack in January while planning the trip to Taiwan.

After Kubera's death, Czech media published a letter stamped by the Chinese embassy in Prague, in which Beijing threatened both Kubera and the Czech companies intending to accompany him on the trip.

Also on the upcoming delegation is Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib, who signed a partnership agreement with Taipei in January that sparked retaliation with Shanghai cutting their sister-city ties.

Vystrcil has said he would make the trip to fulfil the legacy of the late Czech President Vaclav Havel, a human rights fighter and dissident leader of the 1989 Velvet Revolution which toppled communism in the former Czechoslovakia.

Source: AFP/dv


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