President Miloš Zeman has said he does not consider it wise of the Chinese
authorities to boycott Czech cultural events in China, but that he
understands their reason for doing so.
Speaking on a visit to Belgrade, the Czech head of state, who has made a big effort to further Czech-Chinese ties, said that the mayor of Prague, Zdeněk Hrib, had “sown the wind, and the whole country was now reaping the whirlwind”.
Mr. Zeman said the Prague mayor was clearly under the impression that he could mould his own foreign policy rejecting the principle of “One China” at Prague City Hall, which was not the case.
In 2016 the then Czech government, which under the Czech Constitution is responsible for moulding the country’s foreign policy, set the ground for a more pragmatic policy line in relation to China signing an agreement on bilateral cooperation that pledged to respect the “One China policy.”
Czech Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has brought out into the open a deepening feud between the mayor of Prague and Beijing, which has resulted in the cancellation of several cultural events involving Prague ensembles in China. In the sharpest rebuke yet, Minister Zaorálek told the Chinese ambassador to Prague, there would be no cultural exchange if Beijing continued with this practice.
China has cancelled the scheduled tour of another Czech music ensemble,
most likely due to an ongoing feud with Prague’s mayor, Czech Television
Mayor Zdenek Hřib (Pirate Party), a vocal supporter of Taiwan and Tibet, has pushed for the removal of a clause in a Prague-Beijing cooperation agreement requiring the Czech capital to respect the “one-China policy”.
In response, Beijing in July ‘indefinitely postponed’ an autumn tour of China by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Now, China has done the same with the chamber music ensemble Guarneri Trio Prague, led by Ivan Klánský, the dean of the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU).
The Chinese Embassy in Prague has protested against statements made about
the situation in Hong Kong by some Czech politicians and institutions. In a
Facebook post, the embassy said those opinions were erroneous and
represented meddling in China’s internal affairs. It said extreme
violence had been employed by protestors during demonstrations in Hong
The head of the Czech Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Pavel Fischer, this week appealed to the Beijing government to refrain from violence. The Czech Confederation of Trade Unions also wrote an open letter to the Chinese Embassy, calling for an end to repression and saying people should not be fired from their jobs for taking part in demonstrations.
Activists have clashed with police in China over the past 10 weeks during protests sparked by an extradition bill.
Zdeněk Hřib of the Pirate Party has been the mayor of Prague for only 10 months but has already garnered the attention of international media, particularly over his attempts to remove an article recognising the One China policy from the city’s partnership agreement with Beijing. I met with Mr. Hřib at City Hall to discuss his view of the situation, as well as his fondness for Taiwan. The mayor is actually a physician by training and I began by asking him for a diagnosis of tourism in Prague and the city’s plans in this area.
The Chinese Embassy's press spokesman says that information about its
cooperation with companies is "completely unfounded and fictional,
spreading false alarm and slander that damages Chinese reputation".
The statement was sent to media outlets in the country.
The statement was most likely made in response to a recent report by Czech Radio's Radiožurnál investigative team earlier this week, which quoted former Huawei employees. According to these anonymous sources the company collected sensitive data on its customers, which was then in some casses discussed at the Chinese Embassy.
The Czech branch of the Chinese company Huawei is suspected of collecting sensitive data on officials and businessmen through its employees. This material is allegedly gathered during business meetings and subsequently entered into a central database to which the company’s headquarters in China have access. Czech Radio’s investigative team at Radiožurnál broke the story, citing former Huawei employees and Czech intelligence sources.
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Czech National Museum has rejected a gift of exceptional Chinese pottery worth some five million crowns. The museum also declined to send a representative at the weekend to an exhibition showcasing the pottery. While the museum rejected the gift on procedural grounds, the incident underscores concerns about opaque Chinese business practices and the communist country’s exercise of “soft power”.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, is set to meet
China’s ambassador to Prague in connection with reports that China is
cancelling events involving Czech arts organisations that have the word
Prague in their title.
The Czech minister of culture, Antonín Staněk, said after a meeting in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart that a tour involving the Prague Philharmonia could only go ahead if the ensemble expressed criticism of Prague’s mayor Zdeněk Hřib over statements he made that were not to Beijing’s liking.
Mr. Petříček said he would discuss the matter with Mr. Staněk but that if the reports were true it would be “unfortunate”.
President Miloš Zeman, who on Sunday winds up a four day official visit to
China, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks dominated by trade
The Czech head of state has been pushing to increase the level of Chinese investments in the Czech Republic which failed to meet expectations after the CEFC company, with which agreements were signed, became embroiled in scandal.
President Zeman also met with the head of state firm, CITIC, which took over CEFC’s Czech assets and said he was happy with the outcome of negotiations.
One of the highlights of the president’s sixth working visit to China was his address at the Belt and Road Forum, at which he came out strongly in defence of the company Huawei, saying it was victim of unfair competition and expressing the hope that it would be involved in building a 5G network in the Czech Republic.