‘I am a Taiwanese’: Czech Senate president addresses parliament in Taipei

‘I am a Taiwanese’: Czech Senate president addresses parliament in Taipei

Visit by Milos Vystrcil to Taiwan draws angry response from Beijing

The president of the Czech Senate declared himself to be a Taiwanese as he addressed Taiwan’s parliament on Tuesday, in a pointed reference to John F Kennedy’s Ich bin ein Berliner speech in Germany at the height of the cold war.

Milos Vystrcil’s remarks were greeted with a standing ovation by Taiwan’s lawmakers and come as politicians in various countries have started pushing back against an increasingly powerful and assertive Beijing.

In his address, Mr Vystrcil called for democracies to safeguard their way of life. Invoking the 1963 speech in which Kennedy expressed his support for the people of West Berlin, then surrounded by Soviet forces in Communist East Germany, Mr Vystrcil said: “Please allow me to express my support to the Taiwanese people in the same way . . . I am a Taiwanese.”

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, demands that third countries refrain from any contact with the island and the visit by a senior European politician immediately provoked an angry response from Beijing.