Czech President-elect: China is not a friend, not an enemy

The Czech president-elect said China was “not a friend, not an enemy” after Beijing criticized him for talking by phone with the leader of the island of Taiwan.

“They are certainly not friends, but they are not enemies at this point. China is a country based on completely different values ​​and their long-term goals are not like ours,” said President-elect Petr Pavel. February 3 commented on the Czech relationship with China.

“Tensions are unlikely to turn into conflict,” Pavel said, adding that the Czechs could still pursue cooperation and relations with China based on “mutual respect.”

Czech President-elect Petr Pavel in Prague on January 28.  Photo: AFP.

Czech President-elect Petr Pavel in Prague on January 28. Photo: AFP.

The Czech president-elect’s statement came after he was criticized by Beijing for crossing a red line for talking by phone with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen. Mr. Pavel was accused of “flagrant violation” of Beijing’s claim to the island of Taiwan, causing new tensions between China and the European Union (EU).

Mr. Pavel explained that the call started because the Taiwanese leader wanted to congratulate him on his election victory. The Czech president-elect said the country would decide for itself “who we can talk to and about what”.

In a January 29 radio interview, Mr. Pavel said that the One China policy should be supplemented with the “two systems” principle, adding that “there is nothing wrong if we have a relationship.” relationship with the island of Taiwan”.

China has not commented on its response to the Czech president-elect’s comments. China has always considered Taiwan a province awaiting reunification and declared its readiness to use force if necessary.

Pavel will replace incumbent President Milos Zeman, who has a pro-China stance, from March 9. In early January, President Zeman spoke online with Chinese President Xi Jinping and praised the “friendly relationship” between the two countries.

Ngoc Anh (Theo Bloomberg)

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