China’s threats spurred visit to Taiwan: Czech Senate president

Miloš Vystrčil/ Photo from twitter.com/SenatCZ

BERLIN (CNA) — The president of the Czech Republic’s Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, said Tuesday that threats from China and a desire to uphold democratic values strengthened his intent to visit Taiwan.

The visit is planned for Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, Vystrčil announced at a press conference Tuesday, saying that China’s threats toward him and his predecessor were one of his main motivations for the trip.

Vystrčil’s predecessor Jaroslav Kubera, who died of a heart attack in January, was a long-time supporter of Taiwan and was planning to visit the country in February.

At the time, Czech media reported that the Chinese embassy had sent a letter threatening repercussions on Czech businesses if Kubera went through with the trip. His family later said the letter contributed to his death.

At the press conference, Vystrčil said he was dismayed by the letter and found the influence China exerts over his country unbearable.

During a meeting in March, when top Czech government officials discussed issues related to China, they took great care to avoid offending the country, Vystrčil said.

It made him realize just how powerless Czech officials were in the face of China, and that the two countries were not equal partners, Vystrčil said.

China also warned Vystrčil against congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on her inauguration for a second term in May and protested when he thanked Taiwan for its donation of surgical masks, he said.

Also contributing to his decision to visit Taiwan, Vystrčil said, was the Czech Republic’s history of siding with the values of freedom, democracy, independence and the rule of law over financial gain.

“I am inclined to uphold morals and values instead of counting money. Otherwise, sooner or later, we will realize we have nothing,” he said.

During his visit to Taiwan, Vystrčil will be accompanied by political, business and scientific leaders, he said, adding that his predecessor’s widow, Vera Kuberova, has also agreed to accompany the delegation.

As Senate president, Vystrčil ranks second only to the head of state in the Czech Republic, which would make him the highest ranking Czech official to ever visit Taiwan.