Fri, Nov 08, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Czechs turn PRC game against it

By Joseph Bosco

Hrib told NPR the city was learning lessons about China.

“It was quite obvious that the only thing that the Beijing side was focused on was their propaganda, and not the political or cultural exchange we were interested in,” he said.

He also said he “felt very badly; we have to do something because people are suffering from this.”

Given its past practices, Beijing is likely to impose additional punishment on Prague and the Czech Republic, both known for their “fortitude” under the Nazi and Soviet ordeals.

Zeman has tried to forestall further Chinese retaliation by appealing to Xi and distancing his office from the city’s action.

Nevertheless, as Hala told NPR in defense of the mayor’s action: “There is a reason for the backlash, why the mayor has stood up. People have to.”

The question is what other local and national governments in Europe, and elsewhere, will do in the face of China’s economic and ideological onslaught — and whether they can manage to organize a collective response that will increase the strength of the individual.

If, for example, other musical ventures and performers would cancel their China tours in artistic comradeship with Prague’s Philharmonic, Beijing might not find its heavy-handed retribution so useful or so welcome to the Chinese.

The example of the National Basketball Association and a host of major US companies is certainly not inspiring.

It is time to turn Beijing’s instruments of intimidation against it through cultural, as well as economic, disentanglement until China gets the message of how civilized nations behave.

Within days of the NPR report, the Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra at the University of Rochester canceled its tour of China, because Beijing denied visas to its South Korean members. The orchestra previously had decided to make the tour without the three students, but better judgement and sounder ethics prevailed.

There are things the Czechs themselves still can do to teach China that it does not hold all the cards, that retaliation can be a double-edged sword.

Democratic Prague might wish to explore a sister-city relationship with democratic Taipei, with shared values that are deeper and more durable than the economic relations with Beijing proved to be.

If China chooses to punish the Czechs even more severely, their national leaders, heirs to the Havel legacy, may decide that democratic Taiwan is a better long-term partner than communist China.

Other countries under pressure from Beijing might find it an example to follow.

Joseph Bosco served as China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense. He is a fellow at the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies and a member of the advisory committee of the Global Taiwan Institute.

This story has been viewed 5852 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top