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China dispute with Czech Republic over Taiwan intensifies

“The Chinese Communist Party leverages economic power to coerce countries,” Pompeo said Wednesday at the start of a tour of central Europe.

“In your country alone, we see influence campaigns against your politicians and security forces, the theft of industrial data, and the use of economic leverage to stifle freedom itself.”

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Pompeo will also travel to fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members Slovenia and Poland, as well as stopping off in Vienna. He’ll skip nations including Hungary and Serbia, whose leaders are allies of US President Donald Trump but have nurtured closer ties with China.

That underscores a main thrust of his trip that he made clear in Prague. He’s urging allies to shut Russian and Chinese companies out of efforts to build technological projects including nuclear plants and, in the case of China’s Huawei Technologies Co., new 5G networks.

Vystrcil and Hrib both hail from Czech opposition parties. Since becoming mayor of Prague more than two years ago, the latter has irked Beijing by meeting dissidents, criticising its treatment of ethnic minorities and promoting ties with Taiwan.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.Credit:Getty Images

Vystrcil has branded his own decision to lead the delegation as a symbol of defiance against what he calls China’s effort to meddle in Czech politics.

By contrast, President Milos Zeman is an enthusiastic promoter of Chinese investment in Europe. And, speaking alongside Pompeo, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said “China still plays a very big role in our foreign trade,” and that the Czech Republic follows EU policies on it and Russia.

The government in Beijing, which considers democratically run Taiwan a breakaway province, has denounced the visit to Taipei.

“We oppose certain countries’ official ties with Taiwan in whatever form,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Wednesday in Beijing.

“The Chinese nation’s renewal and the reunification across the Taiwan Strait is a historical must, and attempts to reverse this trend will fail.”

Bloomberg

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