Zeman's Chinese embrace falls flat
Fizzled investments, cyber security warnings and a Prague mayor defying Beijing by forging his own diplomatic path are muddying inroads China has made into the Czech Republic as it seeks to extend its influence in Europe.
But overall, Chinese investment has failed to deliver jobs or the flow of money into the country envisioned when President Xi visited Prague in 2016.
From the Czech perspective, the relationship was aimed at drawing Chinese investment into the nation of 10.7 million and opening the door for Czech companies to do business in the world’s second-largest economy.
But a series of diplomatic spats since the start of the year has frayed relations, and highlighted the limited returns the Czechs have received for Zeman’s goodwill.
“It must be a big surprise for the Chinese,” said Vaclav Kopecky, a China expert at Prague’s Association for International Affairs. “They expected… they wouldn’t have any problems. It turned quickly in a very different direction.”
The Czechs had kept Communist-run China at arm’s length following the 1989 Velvet Revolution that propelled Vaclav Havel – a personal friend of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Chinese-ruled Tibet – into office.
Up-and-coming Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy led the Chinese investment charge in the Czech Republic, splashing out over $1 billion on Czech company stakes. Zeman appointed its chairman Ye Jianming as his largely symbolic economic adviser.
The entire article can be found at Reuters