Czech Senate speaker plans to visit Taiwan, angering China

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FILE – In this file photo taken Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, mayor of Prague Zdenek Hrib, left, and Taipei city mayor Ko Wen-je shake hands before signing a partnership agreement between the two cities at the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. Speaker of the upper house of the Czech Parliament Milos Vystrcil announced on Tuesday June 9, 2020, that he will visit Taiwan despite threats from China. Vystrcil said he would be accompanied by a business delegation on his visit that is preliminary scheduled to open on August 30. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

PRAGUE (AP) — The speaker of the Czech Republic’s Senate announced Tuesday he will visit Taiwan despite warnings from China and a recommendation from his own government that he not take the trip.

Milos Vystrcil said he would be accompanied by a business delegation on his visit, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Aug. 30.

Vystrcil said he was also planning to meet Taiwan’s leaders, but didn’t immediately give details.

Vystrcil’s predecessor in the post, Jaroslav Kubera, was planning to travel to Taiwan before he died in January. His plans angered pro-China Czech President Milos Zeman.

A letter to Kubera from the Chinese Embassy in Prague warned him against going on the trip, saying the visit would have negatives consequences for future economic relations between China and the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic has established informal relations with Taiwan but recognizes the one-China principle — the notion that Taiwan belongs to Communist Party-ruled China.

Vystrcil said China’s pressure, including a warning from the Chinese Embassy against congratulating Taiwan’s pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election, contributed to his decision to travel to the island.

“The People’s Republic of China believes it has a right to tell us what to do,” Vystrcil said. He said the Czech Republic will benefit from his trip.

Taiwan is an important business partner for the Czech Republic and has invested more in the Czech economy than mainland China.

In a separate development condemned by China, the Czech capital of Prague signed in January a partnership agreement with Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, three months after canceling a similar deal with Beijing.

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