Trip led by Czech speaker follows news of US policy changes in favour of island
China has pledged to take “corresponding measures” over a visit by the Czech parliamentary speaker to Taiwan, where he channelled John F Kennedy to declare to the island’s parliament: “I am Taiwanese.”
The comments by the foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, were reported in state media without details of what such measures would be. They follow other threats from Beijing over countries fostering relationships with Taiwan, and came shortly after the US announced “significant adjustments” to its One China policy in favour of Taiwan.
As China’s relations with numerous countries worsen – in particular the US and Australia – over issues including trade, the pandemic, the South China Sea and the detention of nationals, Taiwan has welcomed international visitors and lobbied for a larger place on the world stage.
This week the Czech parliamentary speaker, Miloš Vystrčil, led a 90-member delegation to Taiwan, where he delivered a speech to the parliament echoing the then-US president’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” 1963 address challenging communism in the Soviet Union.
“Please allow me to use the same method to express support for Taiwan’s people. Allow me to be so humble but also resolute in saying to your country’s parliament that I am Taiwanese,” Vystrčil said.
On Tuesday, Hua said China strongly condemned the trip.
Her comments about “corresponding measures” followed those of Wang Yi, a state councillor, who said the speaker would “pay a heavy price” for his visit. That threat was repeated by a foreign ministry spokesman on Monday, but again without detail.
Vystrčil, a member of the rightwing opposition, did not have the support of his government for the visit, but the reaction from Beijing officials prompted admonishment from the Czechs, who summoned the Chinese ambassador over Wang’s remarks.
“Minister Wang’s statement has crossed the line, such strong words don’t belong in relations between two sovereign countries,” Tomáš Petříček, the Czech foreign minister, said on Twitter.
Taiwan’s government, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, has continued to celebrate the visit, and on Tuesday also welcomed an announcement by the US state department of “significant adjustments” to its One China policy, as the foundation of “continued cooperation”.
In Berlin, at a joint press conference during a visit by Wang, German foreign minister Heiko Maas said the EU stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Czech government. “Threats are not appropriate.” Maas also expressed concern about the repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang province and about Hong Kong’s security law.