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Czechia probing alleged Chinese diplomat tailing of Taiwan VP-elect: MOFA

04/07/2024 01:24 PM
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Taipei, April 7 (CNA) The Czech Republic government has said it is investigating an alleged incident involving a Chinese embassy staff member accused of tailing Taiwan's Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) during her visit to the country in March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Saturday.

In a statement, MOFA said that the Czech side made the remarks after Taiwan asked its representative office in Prague to contact Czech Republic authorities in the wake of a report by the Prague-based news site Seznam Zpravy on Friday, alleging a Chinese diplomat was stopped by police while following Hsiao's motorcade in Prague last month.

According to MOFA, Hsiao visited the Central European country from March 17 to 19 at the invitation of the Prague-based think tank, Sinopsis, to speak at a seminar.

The Czech Republic authorities were responsible for Hsiao's security during her three-day trip, it added.

In an English-language social media post made on Friday, Jakub Janda, head of the Czechia-based think tank European Values Center for Security Policy, cited the Seznam Zpravy as reporting that when Hsiao's motorcade went from Prague airport to city center, a car was found tailing her.

"Czech Police Protective Service stopped this car and found out it was driven by a Chinese diplomat from the military section of the Chinese Embassy in Prague," and the "Chinese governmental surveillance" continued until Hsiao arrived at her hotel in Prague, Janda said.

Following the incident, Czech Foreign Ministry summoned the Chinese Ambassador Feng Biao (馮飈). Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský was not satisfied with the way Feng explained the matter and his ministry "does not consider this issue to be closed," Janda quoted the Seznam Zpravy as reporting.

A Czech governmental source told the Seznam Zpravy that it is considering declaring that Chinese diplomat persona non grata, Janda said.

In the same report, Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security Committee, said that the said Chinese diplomat's alleged behavior was "like a gangster."

In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomat can be expelled, which is something the Czech Republic should do, the senator said.

The Chinese foreign ministry and embassy in Prague have so far made no response to the allegation raised against one of its diplomats.

In Taipei, lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), of which Hsiao is a member, criticized Beijing over the incident, labeling it as another example of "wolf warrior diplomacy" targeting Taiwan despite the fact that Hsiao maintained a low-key profile throughout her visit to the Czech Republic.

DPP legislative caucus secretary-general Wu Szu-yao (吳思瑤) urged Beijing to immediately halt its coercive diplomatic approach, while calling on democratic allies worldwide to jointly condemn China over the latest incident.

Wu, meanwhile, asked Taiwan's government to provide enhanced security measures to its senior officials during overseas trips to make sure similar incident will not happen again.

According to MOFA, aside from the Czech Republic, Hsiao also visited Poland, Lithuania, and the European Parliament last month, where she met with Taiwan-friendly European parliamentarians.

Before her visit to Europe, Hsiao traveled to the United States on a personal trip, MOFA added.

Hsiao, 52, has served as Taiwan's top representative to the U.S. since July 2020 until she resigned from the post to become Vice President Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) running mate in November 2023 for the Jan. 13 presidential race.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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