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China threatens retaliation after Czech delegation visit to Taiwan

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil is greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu at the National Chengchi University.
Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil is greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu at the National Chengchi University.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

The Czech Foreign Ministry will summon the Chinese ambassador to Prague after threatening statements were made against a Czech politician visiting Taiwan.

A delegation led by Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday, angering Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the visit as "provocation" and said Vystrcil should "pay a high price for his shortsighted behaviour".

Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian added that Beijing would not "sit idly by and let go of the public provocation of the Czech Senate speaker and the anti-China forces behind him".

China regards Taiwan as one of its provinces and an integral part of its territory while condemning any official contact between the island and foreign officials.

But Czech diplomat Tomas Petricek told journalists in Prague that he expects China to explain their statements.

"This trip has of course an impact on our relations with China, but I think that these words go too far," Petricek said on Monday.

Like many countries, the Czech Republic has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but maintains robust informal contacts.

Under the "One China" policy agreement, Prague does not send official government delegations to Taiwan. But Vystrcil, a member of the right-wing opposition, is not bound by this policy.

His 90-person delegation, which includes politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, and journalists, is scheduled to stay in Taiwan until Friday.

Also among the group is the mayor of Prague, Zdenek Hrib, who cancelled a twinning agreement with Beijing in protest against the "One China" policy in October 2019. Prague and Taipei later signed a partnership agreement in January.

Milos Vystrcil gave a speech to the Taiwanese parliament on Monday and is later scheduled to meet President Tsai Ing-wen.

The Senate President also told an economic forum in Taiwan that freedom and democracy are the basis of prosperity, where the two sides signed agreements on high-tech manufacturing and environmental management.

Vystrcil's predecessor, Jaroslav Kubera, had planned to travel to Taiwan before his death despite objections by Beijing.

The Czech delegation's arrival is the second major foreign visit to Taiwan in less than a month, after US Health Secretary Alex Azar, who became the most senior US government official to visit the island since Washington chose to recognise Beijing rather than Taiwan in 1979.