Czech EU Council presidency aims to clarify Brussels’ relations with BeijingReading Time: 2 minutes
Czechia’s Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky says one of his country’s goals when it heads the EU Council is to clarify the EU’s relationship with China. In an interview with Politico, Lipavsky spoke of Prague’s objectives in its 6-month stint in the rotating presidency, which begins in July. He said it was crucial for Brussels to know where China stands in terms of its relations with Russia and time for the EU to help those being “bullied” by Beijing, such as Taiwan.
Politico notes that Beijing and Moscow signed a “no-limits” partnership agreement just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Lipavsky reports that Chinese diplomats in Prague described Russia as a “partner”.
As a member of Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s more Western oriented government, prior to his appointment FM Lipavsky had traditionally been critical of Russian and Chinese companies’ involvement in crucial Czech infrastructure projects and has said that human rights should have a higher priority than business interests in Czech foreign policy.
During its EU presidency, Czechia will introduce an Indo-Pacific strategy, which includes Taiwan. Noting that Taipei is one of his country’s top investors, Czechia’s FM said that according to Czech foreign policy “democracies in the world should hold together — and Taiwan is a democracy”. He added that Prague wants “to help them as much as possible” and mentioned the prospect of cooperation on R&D in semiconductors, where Taiwan is the global leader.
Other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Slovakia and Lithuania, have also sought to upgrade their relations with Taiwan, supporting a fellow democracy and taking advantage of Taipei’s strength in tech to address Europe’s microchip shortages due to supply chain difficulties caused by COVID:19.
Taiwan opened a Representative Office in Lithuania last November, raising the ire of China, which considers the self-governed island a part of its territory. In retaliation, Beijing initiated a trade war against Vilnius, blocking Lithuanian goods of any kind from entering China.
Taiwan extended a USD 1 billion credit line to Lithuania in January, to help offset China’s trade embargo against the small Baltic State.