Thousands of people from around the Czech Republic responded to a call for
humanitarian aid to China made by the Moravian town of Třebíč, donating
facemasks, disinfectants, digital thermometers, latex gloves and protective
shoe covers, among others.
Třebíč, which was asked for help by its partner city of Yichang, where hundreds are infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, earmarked 100,000 crowns for the purchase of aid and called on the public to help.
The humanitarian aid will be sent to China on several planes in the coming days.
Previously a strong advocate of cultivating ties with Beijing, the Czech president has signalled a major U-turn. Miloš Zeman now says he will not attend an annual China-organised summit in April, citing disappointment with the level of Chinese investment in the Czech Republic. I discussed this shift and its implications with Jeremy Garlick, a China expert at Prague’s University of Economics.
President Miloš Zeman will not go to China in April for the 17 + 1 summit,
attended by representatives from Central and Eastern Europe. He said one of
the reasons for his decision was the lack of Chinese investments in the
Czech Republic contrary to promises made.
Zeman told Blesk.cz. he would ask Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček to represent the country at the talks in China, which he considered adequate to the level of cooperation.
It is the first snub from the Czech head of state, who has spearheaded efforts to bring about a restart in Czech-Chinese relations.
In the same interview, the president confirmed his participation in the planned V-Day celebrations in Moscow.
His participation was uncertain after the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the introduction of a Czech memorial day commemorating the victims of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Mr. Zeman said he intended to bring up the issue in person during the visit.
A reset in Czech-Chinese relations in 2014, that included a commitment to the “One China policy” promised to bring huge economic benefits, with President Zeman saying he wanted to make the Czech Republic “China’s gateway to Europe”. Five years on, the promised investments have not materialized and there is growing concern in Prague over Beijing’s effort to increase its influence in the country.
The consumer finance group Home Credit, owned by the richest Czech Petr
Kellner, hired a PR agency to improve the media image of the Communist
Party of China and thus influence Czech society in its favour, news site
Aktuálně reported on Tuesday, citing documents in its possession.
From April to August 2019, money for some 2,000 hours of work was apparently paid by Home Credit to C&B Reputation Management. The PR agency was hired to “help those who support the Chinese regime in the media and attack its critics” and also organised the creation and activities of an institute called Sinoskop – Institut for Contemporary China, Aktuálně writes. However, the director of the agency, Tomáš Sazima, says that its work was only to “moderate the debate about China and bring in relevant elements”.
In an annual report published last month the Czech counterintelligence service BIS considered the spread of China's influence in the Czech Republic to be one of the greatest security threats.
This week’s release of the Czech Security Information Service’s (BIS) annual report was widely covered by Czech media and even some foreign outlets. What stood out was the considerable amount of detail that the public version contained on Russian and Chinese spying operations in the country last year. So what are these two states up to? And what are their reasons?
The spreading of disinformation by pro-Russian activists was the most
serious threat to the constitutionality of the Czech Republic last year,
the country’s BIS counterintelligence service says in an annual report
issued on Tuesday.
In recent years such players have been agitating in an increasingly intensive and systematic way against the political structure in the Czech Republic and the country’s membership of the EU and NATO, the report states.
The report says those circulating pro-Moscow disinformation tend to be from various nationalist and populist movements and include parties and individuals. Some of them were previously active in the domestic anti-immigrant movement.
BIS also said that China was intensifying its espionage activities in the Czech Republic, with all of it main intelligence services in operation here in 2018.
China has targeted its activities at the academic community, the security forces and the state administration and has sought to recruit Czechs as agents, the report says.
China has lately been trying to address and recruit Czech intelligence
agents, Ladislav Šticha, spokesperson for the Czech Republic’s
counterintelligence service (BIS) said in a debate programme on Czech
Television on Sunday.
Mr. Šticha also said the Chinese secret services were particularly interested in information related to the industry. He said they were trying to establish contact with scientists, academics, but also with politicians.
In October this year, BIS director Michal Koudelka warned against China’s activities in the Czech Republic, calling the Russian and Chinese spy services the biggest long-term threat to the country.
More than 600 Charles University students, graduates and employees have
called on its rector Tomáš Zima to step down over a controversial
partnership agreement with consumer lender Home Credit.
Under the cooperation agreement, Home Credit, which is part of the PPF Group controlled by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, was to give Charles University half a million crowns annually. Following a wave of criticism, the company withdrew from the deal.
“The incident clearly shows that the rector of Charles University failed in negotiating the deal with Home Credit and put the university’s good name at risk,” the academics wrote in an open letter addressed to the Academic Senate, which is to hold a meeting on Friday.
Czech-Chinese relations have been in the news a lot lately, but how have they really developed over the decades? And how should we view Chinese moves to develop a new high-tech form of totalitarianism involving facial recognition and “social credit”? I discussed those issues with Professor Olga Lomová, head of the Department of Sinology at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. But I first asked the country’s leading sinologist what had led her to the field.