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Taiwan's vice president-elect visits Czech Republic

March 19, 2024

China was angered by the visit of Taiwan's Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim to Prague, where she met with the speaker of the Czech Senate.

Taiwan Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim gestures while holding a microphone during an international press conference in Taipei, Taiwan
Hsiao Bi-khim is detested in Beijing as a 'die-hard Taiwan independence separatist'Image: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo/picture alliance

Taiwan's Vice President-elect, Hsiao Bi-khim, is visiting the Czech Republic after a low-key trip to the United States, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Hsiao was invited to the Czech Republic by the Sinopsis think tank and will speak with them and meet other "friends" in the country to exchange views before her inauguration, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Jeff Liu said.

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil, who visited Taiwan in 2020, posted a picture on X, formerly Twitter, of him meeting and chatting with Hsiao.

Hsiao, who has served as Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the US, will take office with President-elect Lai Ching-te in May.

What was China's reaction?

The visit angered Beijing, which calls her a "die-hard Taiwan independence separatist" and has imposed sanctions on her.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said the Czech government should "severely restrain certain (Czech) politicians" and "take effective measures to remove the negative influence of this incident."

Beijing expressed anger last week over Hsiao's US trip, which both Taiwan and the United States said was a private visit.

China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory. This is strongly denied by the government in Taipei.

How can Taiwan defend itself from China?

Who supports Taiwan?

Taiwan has no formal diplomatic relations with any European country other than the Vatican.

But Central and Eastern European countries have been particularly eager to show support for Taiwan, especially after Russia's attack on Ukraine. This is intended to reduce Taiwan's international diplomatic isolation and counter Beijing's anger over such contacts.

In January, Nauru and China agreed to restore bilateral diplomatic relations after Nauru's sudden decision to sever ties with Taiwan. This leaves Taipei with only 12 allies that have official, full diplomatic relations.

The island also has the support of the United States and many other Western countries.

dh/fb (Reuters, EFE)