Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil’s six-day trip to Taiwan was rare for a European politician [Ann Wang/Reuters]

Taipei, Taiwan – When Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil declared “I am Taiwanese” during a speech at Taiwan’s parliament earlier this month, he was met with a standing ovation.

The comment was a pointed reference to US President John F Kennedy’s statement “I am a Berliner”, made in defiance of Communism at the height of the Cold War in a then-divided Germany, and while it drew applause from Taiwanese politicians, it only enraged the self-ruled island’s powerful neighbour – China.

Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own, had already threatened to make Vystrcil pay a “heavy price” for his visit. And on the day of his parliamentary address,

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