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President of Czech Senate to visit Taiwan in August in blow to China

Milos Vystrcil will be first incumbent parliament leader to visit Taiwan

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Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil. (Twitter, Milos Vystrcil photo)

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil. (Twitter, Milos Vystrcil photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In an act that will certainly anger Beijing, President of the Czech Senate Milos Vystrcil announced on Tuesday (June 9) his plan to visit Taiwan at the end of August.

Vystrcil will be the highest-level Czech politician to have ever visited the island nation should the trip be made. His predecessor, Jaroslav Kubera, had originally planned to visit Taiwan in January, but he died before he could make the trip.

Media reports later revealed that the Chinese embassy in Prague sent a threatening letter to the Czech president's office prior to Kubera's death, warning that "Czech companies who have economic interests in China will have to pay for the visit to Taiwan by Chairman Kubera." Kubera's wife and daughter have also claimed that Kubera's death bore a relation to Chinese threats and pressures.

Ironically, the threatening letter angered the Czech political world, prompting the Czech Senate to pass a resolution in May in support of its new president making a visit to Taiwan. Vystrcil, who assumed the position of the Senate president in February, earlier expressed his intention to visit the island, though partly as a protest against Bejing's interference in the operations of the Czech government and parliament.

"I deeply admire such courage," Taiwan Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said of Vystrcil Tuesday afternoon on Facebook. He described Vystrcil's decision to visit Taiwan as one in which Vystrcil chose the camp of freedom and democracy while declaring his own country's independence and sovereignty.

Vystrcil will be the first incumbent president of the Czech Senate to have visited Taiwan, said You, who added that the visit will open a new chapter of exchange between the parliaments of Taiwan and the Czech Republic. According to You, the Legislature tendered an invitation to Vystrcil in early June in response to the passage of the resolution in the Czech Senate.

However, it is expected that China will not receive Vystrcil's decision kindly and may even retaliate against Czech companies with operations in China, as it had earlier threatened to do. How the Czech government will react, which is led by President Milos Zeman who has promoted closer ties with Beijing, is also under the limelight.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday afternoon said it welcomes the plan made by Vystrcil. The visit by the Czech parliamentarian and business delegation will advance cooperation and interactions between Taiwan and the Czech Republic in economic, technological, medical, touristic, and cultural areas, said the ministry via a statement.