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Czech Senate president meets Taiwan leader; Beijing protests

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In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, the Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil is presented a medal by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The Czech Senate president met with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen and other top government officials Thursday during a rare trip by a foreign dignitary to the self-ruled democratic island that rival China called an "open provocation." (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

TAIPEI – The Czech Senate president met with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen and other top government officials Thursday during a rare trip by a foreign dignitary to the self-ruled democratic island that rival China called an “open provocation.”

Tsai presented a medal for Jaroslav Kubera, the late predecessor of Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil.

Kubera died in January before making the trip, and Vystrcil said China’s pressure, including a warning from the Chinese Embassy against congratulating Tsai on her reelection, contributed to his decision to travel to the island.

Tsai called Kubera a “great friend" and gave a nod to Vystrcil's speech Tuesday, saying his words “I'm a Taiwanese” had touched many hearts.

“Our actions are telling friends in Europe and all over the world, whether Taiwanese or Czechs, we will not succumb to oppression, will bravely speak up, actively participate in international affairs, and contribute our capabilities,” she said.

Beijing is furious about the Czech delegation’s visit, with the foreign ministry summoning the Czech Republic’s ambassador to lodge stern representations and saying the trip amounted to “flagrant support of Taiwan independence.” China claims Taiwan as its own territory and strongly objects to any official contact between other countries and the self-governing island.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that Vystrcil's visit is an “open provocation.”

“China must tell the Czech Senate leader: You've crossed the line!” Wang said.