September 3, 2020
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Jaushieh Joseph Wu and President of the Senate of the Czech Republic Miloš Vystrčil held a joint press conference on September 3. They were joined by Legislative Yuan President You Si-kun and Chairman of the Czech-Taiwanese Business Chamber Pavel Diviš, who had been invited to witness the accomplishments realized through the Czech delegation’s visit. Minister Wu stated that the visit of President Vystrčil’s delegation to Taiwan bore great historic meaning, and had created a cooperation mechanism between Taiwan and the Czech Republic as like-minded partners, allowing the countries to deepen collaboration in a number of areas, including democratic values, trade and industrial supply chains, and cultural exchange.
Furthermore, Minister Wu said that in refusing to yield to totalitarian pressure, President Vystrčil’s visit exemplified the spirit of the late Czech President Václav Havel in his fight for democracy and freedom, and that Taiwan would continue to stand by its friends from the Czech Republic and enhance bilateral cooperation, so as to lend momentum to steady global political and economic development in the post-COVID-19 era.
In remarks at the press conference, Legislative Yuan President You noted that President Vystrčil’s visit to Taiwan at the invitation of the Legislative Yuan and his heartwarming speech at the Legislative Yuan underscored his commitment to doing what is right and showing support and friendship for Taiwan through concrete action. He said that this demonstrated to the international community that bullying does not win respect and that, in contrast, the Czech Republic has won respect from all sectors of society for its rich tradition of and deep commitment to democracy.
In his remarks, President Vystrčil categorized the accomplishments of his visit into three main areas. First, the visit advanced development of substantive bilateral relations in such fields as the economy, trade, investment, scientific research, education, medical and disease prevention. President Vystrčil said that working groups would be formed by the Czech Senate Committees on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security; Health and Social Policy; National Economy, Agriculture and Transport; and Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions so as to pursue cooperation in these areas and facilitate measures to be taken by their corresponding executive agencies. Second, the visit affirmed the sovereign independence of the Czech Republic and the importance it attaches to the values of democracy and freedom. President Vystrčil expressed appreciation for the support received from the Czech Republic and other parts of Europe. Third, it enhanced cooperation based on shared democratic values as embodied by President Vystrčil’s invitation to Legislative Yuan President You to visit the Czech Republic to further bolster parliamentary exchanges and collaboration.
Czech-Taiwanese Business Chamber Chairman Diviš then spoke on the economy and trade, stating that the 36 Czech business leaders in the delegation had proactively explored opportunities for cooperation during their visit. He recognized Taiwan as the best gateway to Asia for the Czech Republic and welcomed Taiwan to consider the Czech Republic as an important base for developing the European market.
During his stay, President Vystrčil has engaged in extensive and productive exchanges with high-level government officials, enterprises and civil society groups, underscoring the values and interests shared by democratic countries. These exchanges covered three major areas:
1. Enhancing democracy and the rule of law and jointly upholding the shared ideals of freedom and democracy
>High-level parliamentary visits, with President Vystrčil having invited Legislative Yuan President You to visit the Czech Republic
>Exchanges between parliamentary committees and professional staff members, including delegations of civil service specialists, with a focus on public health and the digitalization and transparency of parliamentary processes
>Media exchanges and the promotion of press freedom, with assistance to be provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Czech media to increase presence in Taiwan
>The strengthening of democratic mechanisms through exchanges of information and experience regarding elections, cybersecurity and combating disinformation
2. Bolstering bilateral economic, trade and supply chain cooperation, focusing on artificial intelligence and the internet of things, green economy, innovative industries, and disease prevention
>The continuing implementation of the conclusions of the 2020 Taiwan-Czech Republic Economic, Trade and Investment Forum, including an increase in bilateral investment, particularly in the three key sectors of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, the green economy, and innovative industries
>The organization of a business delegation to the Czech Republic by the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association, Taiwan, focusing on economic and trade cooperation, depending on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic
>The signing of MOUs between the Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency and Business Next Media Corporation and their respective Czech counterparts to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the development of smart cities and the artificial intelligence of things
>The signing of an MOU on cooperation between the Precision Machinery Research and Development Center and the Czech-Taiwanese Business Chamber to enhance professional personnel exchanges and information sharing in smart machinery and jointly create business opportunities
>The strengthening of financial cooperation, with Taiwan Cooperative Bank and the Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China to appraise the feasibility of establishing offices in the Czech Republic
>The continuing application of the joint statement issued by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Prague and the Czech Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei on a partnership for containing the coronavirus and engaging in closer collaboration on medical equipment supply chains
>China Airlines’ consideration of the feasibility of plans for direct passenger flights from Taipei to Prague following the stabilization of the COVID-19 pandemic to promote bilateral tourism and business travel
3. Facilitating bilateral cultural and technological exchanges and institutionalized cooperation between democratic communities
>Arrangements for the Prague Philharmonia to tour Taiwan next year, with detailed plans to be drawn up by related management companies
>Discussions on the possible organization of a National Palace Museum exhibition in the Czech Republic and an exhibition of Czech museum collections in Taiwan
>Facilitation of the signing of an MOU on sister-university cooperation between the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, and National Taipei University of Technology
>Facilitation of cooperation on establishing a dual degree program between the Czech Technical University in Prague and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
>Facilitation of the signing of an MOU on cooperation between the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, and Tunghai University
>Facilitation of the signing of an MOU on cooperation between the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, and National Tsing Hua University
>Encouragement of bilateral student exchanges, with the government of Taiwan coordinating local universities to provide an additional 50 scholarships for Czech students under the Mandarin (Huayu) scholarship program
>Facilitation of closer academic cooperation between the Czech Academy of Sciences and Academia Sinica
>Facilitation of the intention to sign an MOU on cooperation between the National Applied Research Laboratories’ National Space Organization and the Czech Academy of Sciences
>Promotion of connectivity between local governments in Taiwan and the Czech Republic, including the strengthening of sister city relations between Taipei and Prague and fostering exchanges between the Vysočina Region and Taiwan’s local governments
>The strengthening of exchanges between high school teachers and students in Taiwan and the Czech Republic, encouraging interaction between youths
Such multilevel, multichannel, cross-disciplinary exchange and cooperation are unprecedented for Taiwan-Czech relations, and show that bilateral ties have evolved into a comprehensive partnership. Taiwan deeply appreciates that President Vystrčil has led this sizeable delegation to Taiwan in defiance of threats from elsewhere.
Before he left on this trip, President Vystrčil emphasized that he was leading this delegation to Taiwan to honor the tradition established by the late President Václav Havel of working with other democracies, regardless of opposition, to safeguard the values of freedom and democracy. This is reminiscent of a famous statement by President Havel: “Totalitarian power is a great reminder to contemporary civilization.” In refusing to yield to totalitarian pressure, President Vystrčil exemplifies the spirit of Václav Havel’s fight for democracy and freedom.
The Czech delegation—comprising members of the Senate, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, university rectors and representatives, business leaders, democratic leaders, members of the media and others—is here to witness this special moment because both sides understand how precious the values of democracy and freedom are, and that they need to be staunchly defended. Taiwan thanks President Vystrčil and its Czech friends for supporting it through concrete action. Taiwan will continue to stand with its Czech friends to deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation. (E)