TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan is part of a democratic alliance and can work with many friendly countries, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said after welcoming a large Czech delegation to the island on Monday, one day after Honduras switched diplomatic allegiance to China.
While the number of countries that retain formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan has dwindled to just 13 following the move by Honduras on Sunday, U.S. allies like the Czech Republic have been bolstering support for the democratic island even as they also only officially recognise China.
The roughly 150-person Czech delegation arrived in Taipei on Saturday, led by the speaker of the lower chamber of the Czech parliament, Marketa Pekarova Adamova. China has criticised the visit.
Speaking to reporters after addressing a Taiwan-Czech business forum, Wang said the timing of the Honduras announcement and the Czech delegation’s arrival were two different things.
“This visit of the delegation to Taiwan certainly represents that Taiwan is in a democratic alliance,” she said.
“Diplomatically we in fact can have relevant cooperation with lots of countries who are friendly to us, especially on trade and the economy, culture and so on – these are good areas. We will strengthen substantive relations with a great many democratic countries.”
Pekarova Adamova, who is due to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen later on Monday, told the business forum that Taiwan was a crucial investment partner for her country.
“Taiwan is not only an important economic partner but also a friendly and democratic partner and deserves our attention and support.”
Newly elected Czech president Petr Pavel drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing in January after taking a call from Tsai, a clear shift from his predecessor’s attempts to win Chinese business.
Pekarova Adamova’s trip to Taiwan follows one by Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil in 2020. He brought around 90 people with him and proclaimed “I am Taiwanese” in a speech channelling the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s defiance of communism in Berlin in 1963.