Czech Senate President may visit Taiwan after all: Think tank director

Source: Taiwan News / / By Kelvin Chen /

Sinopsis director critical of Chinese influence, predicts trend of pro-Taiwan policies

Director of Czech think tank Sinopsis, Martin Hala (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the wake of the sudden death of Czech Senate President Jaroslav Kubera, his replacement Milos Vystrcil may schedule a trip to Taiwan, triggering concerns among pro-China Czech government officials and business elite.

The director of Czech think tank Sinopsis, Martin Hala, told CNA on Thursday (May 14) that he believes Vystrcil may indeed visit Taiwan, which would put him at odds with his country’s China-friendly president.

Kubera had originally planned to visit Taiwan in February but unfortunately died one month before the trip. Local Czech media recently revealed Kubera’s relatives believe his fatal heart attack was connected to threatening letters from China.

Hala claimed the Chinese ambassador to the country had pressured Kubera at the request of members of the Czech elite who had financial interests tied up in China.

Hala, who previously conducted research in Taiwan, said that during the tenure of Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic’s first president after it separated from Slovakia in 1993, the government strongly supported human rights and democracy around the world.

However, the academic said incumbent President Milos Zeman, who was re-elected in 2018, has major interests in China and that the Czech tradition of liberal democracy has been erased at the hands of the political and business class.

Moreover, many of the Zeman administration’s pro-Beijing actions do not reflect the humanist principles detailed in national policy documents, Hala said.

He stressed that the government’s pro-Beijing stance has not only failed to bring Chinese capital and economic benefits to the Czech Republic but has also tarnished the nation’s image, citing its close relationship with CEFC China Energy and other Chinese companies mired in controversy.

While China has promoted the “Belt and Road Initiative” in the Czech Republic, it has repeatedly been criticized for a lack of substantial investment. In addition, the European nation is hindered by China’s protectionist policies, preventing it from expanding investment in China, Hala explained.

The think tank director observed that the Czech people have gradually realized this fact. He stated that the Pirate Party and other groups advocating a closer relationship with Taiwan reflect a trend of “returning to the pre-Zeman era.”

Although Vystrcil has not made clear whether a trip to Taiwan is imminent, Hala said there are certain signs that a visit to Taiwan is “very likely.”