Taiwan is 'de facto independent free country': Czech senator

Vystrcil visiting Taiwan to 'preserve the sovereignty and honor of the Czech Republic'

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

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

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil, who is planning to visit Taiwan in August, was quoted in an online interview as saying that Taiwan is a "de facto independent and free country."

As Vystrcil's plan to visit Taiwan has caused a heated debate in the Czech political arena, the Czech newspaper DNES on Tuesday (June 23) posted the video of an interview with the senator on its website. During the interview, which focused on Vystrcil's motives for making the trip, the screen behind him flashed images of the Taiwanese flag, Taipei 101, and a map of Taiwan.

Vystrcil said that he was initially inspired to make the trip by late Senate leader Jaroslav Kubera, who passed away in January amid intense pressure from Beijing to back out of a similar visit. He said that he felt he had the responsibility to fulfill Kubera's wish to visit Taiwan.

Later, due to pressure from the Chinese embassy to scuttle the trip, the aim to promote economic and trade ties, and out of respect for a democratic country, he became convinced that he must visit Taiwan. He made his final decision after no top Czech officials objected to China's actions: "I saw no other way to preserve the sovereignty and honor of the Czech Republic than to go there."

Kubera originally planned to visit Taiwan in February but unfortunately died suddenly before leaving. Before his death, he received a letter from the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic threatening that he would pay a price if he visited Taiwan. Since replacing Kubera, Vystrcil too has come under intense pressure from Beijing, with the Chinese embassy not only protesting that he thanked Taiwan for its donation of masks but also warning him not to congratulate Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on her second inauguration.

When asked about the details of the trip to Taiwan, Vystrcil said that the itinerary has not been finalized yet, but he intends to meet with Tsai, President of the Legislative Yuan Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), and the heads of the economic and cultural ministries, among others. He said that his delegation will sign agreements that can benefit the Czech Republic and promote bilateral cooperation.

He then emphasized that "Taiwan is a de facto independent and free country" (Tchaj-wan je de facto svobodný a samostatný). Vystrcil said that the delegation will arrive in Taiwan on Aug. 20 or 30 and depart on Sep. 5, but the details are still being fine-tuned.

When Vystrcil and his delegation tour Taiwan, he will be the highest-ranking Czech official to have ever made an official visit to the country. According to Vystrcil, over 50 companies and research institutions applied for the trip, and he will select which ones can participate in July.