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Czech Senate President Announces Plan to Visit Taiwan
Despite pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the President of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, officially announced on June 9 that he will be visiting Taiwan for a week. There he will carry forward the will of the former Czech Senator, Jaroslav Kubera, a long-time supporter of Taiwan who died of a heart attack in January. Vystrčil criticized the Czech government for its over-reliance on the CCP, and believes that Taiwan has created more investment and employment opportunities in the Czech Republic than the CCP has provided. The Taiwan visit will take place between Aug. 30 to Sept. 5. Vystrčil will be accompanied by other political leaders and representatives from the business and scientific communities. Despite pressure from the Chinese regime, Vystrčil believes the visit will be in line with Czech‘s tradition of fighting for freedom and democracy. “My visit to Taiwan has two reasons, I firmly believe that it (the Taiwan visit) is the right choice in terms of economic growth, scientific growth, education and culture, and in terms of how democratic countries should interact with each other.” Vystrčil also mentioned the threatening letter sent by the Chinese Communist Party to the former Czech Senator, Jaroslav Kubera, from which he had gained more determination to visit Taiwan. Vystrčil expressed hope that Kubera’s widow could accompany him on his visit. After the press conference, a group of Czech citizens presented Vystrčil with a special cake to show their support, which featured both the Taiwan and Czech flags. The cake also quoted famous words from former Czech President Vaclav Havel: "Freedom is as precious as life." Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen also extended a cordial welcome to Vystrčil. President Tsai Ing-Wen: “On behalf of the people of Taiwan and the government of Taiwan, I would like to extend our sincerest welcome. We also look forward to his arrival, thereby bringing closer exchanges and better cooperations between our two countries.” However, Vystrčil's move also drew harsh criticism from the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic. The spokesman for the Czech prime minister tweeted on June 9th that President Miloš Zeman and the foreign minister do not recommend Vystrčil to pay a visit to Taiwan. However, on the same day, Jiří Drahoš, former president of the Czech Academy of Sciences and current chairman of the Senate's Committee on Education, responded to the tweet and announced that he would be paying a visit to Taiwan. Drahoš said at a news conference on June 10: “I will pay an official visit to Taiwan at the end of October. In the field of cybersecurity and epidemiology, Taiwan has outstanding records of achievement, and it would no doubt be extremely valuable for us to exchange our experiences with them.” Earlier, a resolution proposed by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) to thank Taiwan for its help in fighting the CCP virus pandemic was rejected by the populist party ANO (led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš), the pro-Beijing Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and the Communist Party (KSČM). Taiwan donated medical supplies, such as masks and respirators. The obstruction of the resolution has caused discontent among the public. Some Czech citizens created a petition website to express their gratitude to Taiwan in a joint letter, which stated: “We are deeply grateful for your help during the pandemic, even though our government refused to publicly thank you for your generosity but instead paid tribute to the Chinese government that had caused all those problems. We feel deeply ashamed.” As of June 10, nearly 9,000 people signed the petition.