The Czech Republic’s incoming president, Petr Pavel, spoke with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen on Monday, two days after he was elected, a clear sign the new leader plans to bolster ties between the countries in the face of mounting pressure from China.
“I assured her that Taiwan and the Czech Republic share the values of freedom, democracy and human rights,” Mr Pavel, who takes office in March, said in a statement on Twitter. He said he hopes to meet Ms Tsai “in person in the future”.
The phone call highlights strengthening ties between the European Union member state and Taiwan, which China views as part of its territory, as tensions mount over the claim. The speaker of Taiwan’s legislature travelled to Prague last year in a visit China criticised as sending “the wrong signals to Taiwanese forces whose mission is Taiwan’s independence”.
Ms Tsai said Taiwan is prepared to expand co-operation on supply chains and key technologies, such as semiconductor design, according to a statement by the Taiwanese leader’s office.
“The government will encourage Taiwanese companies to use the Czech Republic as an important base in central and eastern Europe to deepen economic and trade exchanges,” Ms Tsai’s spokeswoman, Lin Yu-chan, said in a statement after the call.
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China vehemently opposes any official contact by foreign states with Taiwan. Earlier this month, Taiwan signed a licence-sharing agreement for chip manufacturing with Lithuania’s Teltonika IoT Group, adding to tensions between China and the Baltic EU member.
In 2016, Ms Tsai spoke with then-US president-elect Donald Trump in a phone call that presaged a more pugnacious stance in US policy on China and the strongest US support for Taiwan in decades. – Bloomberg