Taiwan's foreign minister departs for rare European trip

10/25/2021 11:25 AM
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Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. File photo courtesy of MOFA
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. File photo courtesy of MOFA

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) departed Taiwan late Sunday to visit the Slovak Republic and Czech Republic in a rare public trip to countries with which Taiwan has no official diplomatic relations.

In a tweet, Wu said he is honored to visit the two Central European countries, which are closely connected to Taiwan via the Velvet Revolution and Wild Lily student movements.

"We similarly aspire to freedom, human rights & rule of law. I'm honored to visit & partner for the betterment of the world. Together we're unstoppable forces for good!," he said in the tweet.

The minister will deliver the keynote address Tuesday at a conference hosted by Bratislava-based think tank GLOBSEC in Slovakia, as well as receive a medal from Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil and meet with Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During his stay in Europe, Wu will also speak virtually at a conference organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China in Rome, Italy, on Oct. 29.

Wu's European trip to two countries, with which Taiwan has no official diplomatic relations, is rare for the nation's foreign minister given the fact that those countries would usually face strong pressure from China to prevent such trips from going ahead.

Taiwan's foreign ministers do visit countries that have no diplomatic ties with Taiwan to hold meetings with Taiwanese diplomats stationed there but such visit are usually conducted privately or not made public until they are concluded.

The last time Wu visited Europe and had a public schedule was in 2019 to speak at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in Denmark.

In response, China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, warned Slovakia and the Czech Republic on Friday that nobody should harbor any illusions about the "necessary measures" China will take to defend its sovereignty, without further elaborating.

Wu's visit coincides with the ongoing visit of a Taiwan trade delegation led by National Development Council chief Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫).

The 66-person delegation departed Taiwan last Wednesday to visit the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well as Lithuania from Oct. 20-30 as part of the government's strategy to boost trade and economic ties with Central and Eastern European countries.

The three countries' relations with Taiwan have improved over the past few years despite pressure from Beijing. The trio have also donated more than 850,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan to reciprocate the face mask donations made by Taipei in 2020.

(By Joseph Yeh)

Enditem/AW

Update

Oct. 29: Foreign minister calls for Taiwan-EU investment deal at Rome forum

Oct. 28: 'Taiwan unites us all': foreign affairs chair of Lithuanian parliament

Oct. 27: Foreign Minister Wu speaks out against authoritarianism in Prague

Oct. 26: Taiwan FM emphasizes democracy, trust in Slovakia speech

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