Prague mayor blasts China
The mayor of Prague, Zdenek Hrib slams China in an opinion piece in today’s Washington Post. Mr. Hrib describes China as an unreliable business partner and serial blackmailer. Excerpt below.
Prague is one of the great musical cities of Europe — a status of which we are rightfully proud. Small wonder that our musicians are welcome guests around the world.
Yet this year, four of our best musical ensembles were in for an unpleasant surprise: China, which had invited them to visit the country, abruptly canceled their long-scheduled tours.
The reason for Beijing’s decision to rescind the invitations was clear. Since I was elected mayor of the Czech capital in 2018, I have worked to fulfill a promise to voters. I vowed during the campaign that I would return to our hallowed post-communist traditions of honoring democracy and human rights. By delivering on that promise, I and my government have prompted the ire of the Chinese Communist Party.
We have chosen to adorn our city hall with the Tibetan flag — which should not bother China at all, considering that its 1951 agreement with the Tibetan government grants the territory a broad degree of autonomy. Being a doctor, I have also publicly condemned the forced extraction of organs from members of the Muslim Uighur minority and other prisoners of the regime.
Our municipal government also rejected a clause in our sister-cities agreement with Beijing that renounced the independence of Taiwan and Tibet. That agreement, which included this highly unusual geopolitical declaration, had been approved by our predecessors in office — a move that understandably thrilled Beijing at the time. We wanted to remove the clause and preserve the standard agreement. Yet this suggestion was unacceptable to our Chinese counterparts, who then insisted on discarding the whole treaty. We have lost our partner city, but as a result we have gained a new one. In January, we will sign a new sister-cities agreement with Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
There are two important lessons that can be learned from our dealings with Beijing.
First, China is an unreliable business partner that does not hesitate to sacrifice profitable deals if political need dictates otherwise. The Chinese Politburo can turn big business contracts or important declarations of cooperation into meaningless pieces of paper in a matter of seconds. Business cooperation between the Czech Republic and China has been more than unbalanced. Beijing promised up to 10 billion euros of investment within the next five years. We correspondingly modified our foreign policy and opened our market. Yet the Chinese investments in the country have not followed.
Read the entire article at The Washington Post