On Wednesday a Taiwanese diplomat was expelled at China’s request from a meeting held by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Wang Chung-I (汪忠一), director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Prague, the de facto embassy of Taiwan in the Czech Republic, was requested to leave the meeting, to which he had been invited to participate by the Czech government, after China exerted diplomatic pressure on the local authorities.

Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Prague (image by Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons)

The economic conference, which took place on March 27, was held for the 19th year. More than 100 foreign officials were invited to attend, including the Taiwanese representative.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) views Taiwan as one of its provinces and has not ruled out the use of force to bring about “reunification”. Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing’s diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan has intensified, yet the administration of Taiwanese president Ts’ai Ing-wen, elected in 2016 in a landslide, has refused to back down.

Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib is currently visiting Taiwan. On March 29 he received an honorary citizenship from his Taipei counterpart, Ko Wen-je. It is not clear whether Beijing’s request to expel Mr. Wang was a reaction to the visit.

Hrib condemned the expulsion of Mr. Wang at a press conference at the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “From [the perspective of] simple human decency, it is unacceptable for me to throw [out] guests that I had invited as a host,” he said.

He further criticized the inclusion of a one-China clause in a sister city agreement between Prague and Beijing signed in 2016 by his predecessor. The mayor praised economic cooperation with Taiwan as a source of job creation for Czech citizens, while he lambasted one-sided deals with China.

Former Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda condemned the Czech authorities for yielding to Chinese pressure, stressing that “no foreign country should decide who gets an invitation.”

On March 29 Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry blasted what it called China’s “barbaric” behaviour, stating that its actions will only make more Taiwanese reject Beijing’s “one-China principle.”

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