TAIPEI (Reuters) – The speaker of the lower chamber of the Czech parliament told Taiwanese lawmakers on Tuesday that her country and Taiwan are bound together by freedom and democracy, pledging to always stand with the island’s people.
Taiwan has sought to bolster ties with fellow democracies as it faces stepped up pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty, and has found a welcoming audience in central and eastern Europe given the shared history of authoritarianism.
Addressing Taiwan’s parliament, Marketa Pekarova Adamova said Taiwan and the Czech Republic share the same story.
“Developing freedom and democracy is our responsibility,” she said, speaking in Czech with her remarks translated into Mandarin.
“Dear lawmaker colleagues and dear people of Taiwan, I guarantee you we are with you now, we will continue to be with you and under any circumstances we are in the same boat together. Because you are with us, so we are with you,” Pekarova Adamova added, to applause.
Although the Czech Republic does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Pekarova Adamova is visiting with a delegation of some 150, mostly businesspeople.
China has objected to her trip, as it does to most official visits to Taiwan.
The democratically elected government in Taipei rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.
Newly elected Czech president Petr Pavel drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing in January after taking a call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, a clear shift from his predecessor’s attempts to win Chinese business.
Pekarova Adamova’s trip to Taiwan follows one by Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil in 2020.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)