China Contacts Prague Over Czech President-Elect Speaking to Taiwan President

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday it was in touch with Prague over President-elect Petr Pavel’s call with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen.

Pavel spoke with Tsai on Monday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei that is likely to anger China.

The two leaders stressed their countries’ shared values of freedom, democracy and human rights during their 15-minute call, their offices said, and Pavel said he hoped to meet Tsai in the future.

China claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a province and most countries’ leaders avoid high-level public interactions with Taiwan and its president, not wishing to provoke China, the world’s second-largest economy.

In Beijing’s first response to what could become a full-blown diplomatic row with Prague, the Chinese foreign ministry said Pavel had previously said during his election campaign that the One-China Principle should be respected.

“The Chinese side…is currently seeking verification with the Czech side, (we) hope the Czech side strictly upholds the One-China Principle,” the foreign ministry said.

Beijing views Taiwan as being part of “one China” and demands other countries recognise its sovereignty claims, which Taiwan’s democratically-elected government rejects.

The Czech Republic, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but the two sides have moved closer as Beijing ratchets up military threats against the island and Taipei seeks new friends in Eastern and Central Europe.

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