Bratislava, Slovakia – China isn’t taking too well the visit of an important Taiwanese delegation in several Central and Eastern European countries this month.
“Flexing of muscles”
On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin warned the Czech Republic and Slovakia not to harbour any illusions about the “necessary measures” Beijing is prepared to take take to defend its sovereignty.
As part of its “One China policy”, Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, and perceives high-profile official bilateral visits as a sign of support or de-facto recognition of the island’s autonomy (the Vatican City is the only European state to have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan as a result of Chinese pressure).
The comments came a few days ahead of a visit by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, accompanied by a delegation of government officials and business representatives, in the two Central European countries.
“In my point of view, such flexing of muscles does not have a place in diplomacy,” Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said following M. Wenbin’s comments.
The Chinese government has been at loggerheads with Lithuania, the third country on the agenda of the 65-member delegation’s CEE tour, with the most recent political dispute leading to both countries mutually recalling each other’s ambassadors.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister to visit Slovakia, Czech Republic and Lithuania
In Slovakia, M. Wu will attend a forum organized by an independent NGO, before going to Prague to meet the mayor of the Czech capital Zdenek Hrib and the head of the Czech Senate Milos Vystrcil.
The Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia have all donated vaccine doses to Taiwan as part of their cooperation to fight the spread of Covid-19, with the latter also considering sending an official delegation to Taipei in the coming months.
While some Czech politicians, most notably President Milos Zeman, have worked to promote close ties with Beijing, others like Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib have led efforts to move away from Chinese influence and forge a closer relationship with Taiwan.
In 2019, Prague cancelled its sister-city agreement with Beijing and shortly after signed a new one with Taipei. Last year, Senate leader Milos Vystrcil’s visit to Taiwan again sparked the anger of Chinese officials.