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Taiwan minister meets Czech Senate speaker on trip that has angered China

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PRAGUE (Reuters) – Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu met the head of the upper house of the Czech parliament on Tuesday as part of a European trip that has angered China.

Wu, on a second trip to the central European NATO and European Union member country after a 2021 visit, met Milos Vystrcil, who has been at the forefront of Czech efforts to build closer relationship with Taiwan and visited the island in 2020.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. Taiwan strongly objects to China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.

Taiwan has no formal diplomatic ties with any European country except the Vatican.

But there are extensive informal relations, and Central and Eastern European countries have been particularly keen to show support for Taiwan – especially following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – defying Beijing’s anger about such contacts and lessening Taiwan’s international diplomatic isolation.

Wu was also due to speak at a security conference in Prague on Wednesday, immediately after an opening speech by Czech President Petr Pavel.

Wu was also due to meet informally for a dinner with the head of the lower house of parliament, Marketa Pekarova-Adamova, on Wednesday, her spokesman said.

Two sources briefed on Wu’s trip, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak with the media, said Wu was also expected to visit Brussels, headquarters of the European Union.

China’s Foreign Ministry urged Europe on Friday not to have any official exchanges with Taiwan or support “independence forces” ahead of the trip.

The Chinese embassy in Prague did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Czech Republic has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but after years of warming up to Beijing, the country’s centre-right cabinet in power since 2021 and Pavel who took office in March have been keen on improving ties with Taipei.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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