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70 world leaders sign letter backing Czech senator's visit to Taiwan

Statement rejects any attempt by China to infringe on European countries' right to develop ties with Taiwan

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A total of 70 leaders from the European Parliament, U.S., Canada, and Australia on Tuesday (Aug. 25) issued a statement backing an upcoming visit to Taiwan by a Czech delegation and denouncing Chinese pressure to scuttle the trip.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil will lead a delegation of about 90 people, including Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib, to visit Taiwan from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4.

Former Czech Senate Speaker Jaroslav Kubera was originally scheduled to visit Taiwan in February but died before he could go through with the trip. His relatives have blamed two threatening letters from the Chinese embassy in Prague for contributing to his untimely demise.

On Tuesday, Slovakian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Miriam Lexmann and Czech MEP Alexandr Vondra issued a joint statement strongly supporting Vystrcil's visit to Taiwan and severely condemning pressure from Beijing to call it off. The signed statement also mentioned Kubera's sudden death following the threatening letters from Chinese diplomats and added that three Czech companies operating in China had also faced "brazenly threatened repercussions" over their plans to take part in the trip.

The statement pointed out that despite attempts by China's "wolf warrior diplomats" to sabotage the visit to Taiwan, Kubera's successor, Vystrcil, early on had expressed his determination to go ahead with it. Vystrcil emphasized that the journey was "an expression of the respect for freedom and democracy that the Czech Republic espouses."

The document asserted that the Czech Republic "has the right to develop economic and cultural relations with Taiwan" and that Vystrcil, who is the second-highest ranking official in the country, does not require China's "approval" to visit Taiwan.

The signatories expressed their solidarity with the Czech senator and denounced any pressure placed on him or the Czech senate by China. They then rejected any attempt by China to infringe on the right of European countries to develop ties with Taiwan, in accordance with their national interests and "shared values of democracy and human rights."

This joint statement included the signatures of 23 MEPS, including EP Taiwan Friendship Group Chair Michael Gahler and seven Czech MEPs. It was also signed by legislators from the U.S., Germany, France, Canada, Australia, the U.K., Slovakia, and Estonia.

The three Americans who signed the document are Republican Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI).