TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen agreed with a delegation led by Czech Sen. Jiri Drahos on Thursday to deepen cooperation in semiconductors, medicine and science and technology amid tensions between China and the self-ruled island.
Tsai told Drahos, a former president of the Czech Academy of Sciences, that the delegation's visit soon after Chinese military exercises around Taiwan "shows an unwavering friendship that comes from like-minded countries supporting each other."
"Facing authoritarianism's expansion, we hope that our countries will continue to look out for each other and safeguard freedom and democracy together," the president said.
Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split due to a civil war in 1949. China regards the island as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
Calling Taiwan a "key democratic partner in the Indo-Pacific area," Drahos said the central European country and Taiwan have the same experience of dealing with a "non-democratic and hostile neighbor" that makes the two "truly appreciate the values of freedom and democracy."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday that Beijing "firmly opposes all forms of official interactions" between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic ties with China, saying the Taiwan question bears on China's core interests and internal affairs.
"We urge relevant politicians in the Czech Republic to abide by the one-China principle, avoid sending any wrong signal to 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces and stop further undermining the political foundation" of relations between the Asian and Central European countries, Zhao said at a press conference in Beijing.
Tsai held talks with a Czech parliamentary delegation in 2020. Milos Vystrcil, president of the Czech Senate who led the delegation, gave an address to Taiwan's legislature, becoming the first head of parliament of a country without diplomatic ties with Taiwan to do so.
Drahos ran for Czech president in 2018 and was defeated by incumbent President Milos Zeman by a narrow margin. The senator's delegation arrived in Taiwan on Sunday.