Czech Senate speaker: 'I'm a Taiwanese'

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil on Tuesday vowed to further defend values of democracy and freedom in a speech delivered to Taiwan's lawmakers in Taipei, dpa reported. "I'm a Taiwanese," Vystrcil said in Mandarin, in a speech inspired by the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner," delivered in 1963 by US President John F. Kennedy during his anti-communist speech to people in West Berlin.

Vystrcil's statement prompted long applause from Taiwanese lawmakers, who stood up to clap. Vystrcil was also given a Congressional Diplomacy Honorary Medal from Taiwan's Legislature, on the third day of a six-day visit by an 89-member Czech delegation.

The Czech Republic does not have formal relations with Taiwan. Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory.

During his speech, Vystrcil said parliaments in democratic countries around the world all aim to defend principles of democracy, and stressed that freedom cannot be divided. Vystrcil is the first Senate president from a non-diplomatic ally of Taiwan to deliver a speech at Taiwan's parliament.

Taiwan Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun said that Vystrcil's visit to Taiwan not only strengthens friendship but also deepens democracy in the two countries.

China had previously warned Vystrcil would pay a 'heavy price' over the delegation's visit.

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