Czech Senate speaker leaves for Taiwan visit, angering China

The head of the Czech Senate traveled to Taiwan on Saturday for a rare trip by a senior foreign official that has angered China, which considers the island a breakaway province ineligible for state-to-state relations.

Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil said his visit would promote business links with Taiwan, and that the Czech Republic would not bow to Beijing's objections.

"You cannot accept being someone's servant, because if you do, then when you obey once, it's assumed that you obey every time," Vystrcil told Reuters ahead of the trip.

Vystrcil said his visit underscored the "values-based" foreign policy put in place by late President Vaclav Havel, an anti-communist dissident and personal friend of the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.

The delegation is due to meet President Tsai Ing-wen and other top officials in Taiwan, where strict coronavirus measures will be observed during the meetings.

For Taiwan, the Czech visit is a welcome sign of support amid growing tensions with China.

"Taiwan and the Czech Republic both share the universal values of democracy, freedom and human rights," Johnson Chiang, head of the European Affairs Office at Taiwan's Foreign Ministry's, told reporters this week.

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