China has criticized the leadership of Prague, intensifying a dispute after the Czech capital withdrew from a sister-city partnership with Beijing.
The conflict has been brewing since the upstart Pirate party took over the Prague mayor’s office and took issue with Beijing’s “one China” policy in regards to the sovereignty of Taiwan and Tibet.
The city council withdrew from the sister-city deal, signed on Oct. 7, 2016, with mayor Zdenek Hrib saying Prague took the action because Beijing rejected a Czech request to remove a clause from the agreement that states that Prague supports the “one-China” principle, which does not recognize Taiwan. The declaration isn’t appropriate for a pact between cities, as it is a matter of national policy, Hrib said.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Prague, Czech Republic
Hrib said Prague wants to focus on cultural cooperation, not on politics.
China’s embassy reacted angrily, saying on Facebook that Prague’s leadership must change its attitude or “it will be their own interests that will be hurt.” The cancellation is “a breach of trust” hurting ties between the two countries, the embassy said, after sending a “serious protest” to the city’s administration.
The city magistrate’s policy toward China clashes with that of the Czech national leadership, with Czech President Milos Zeman an enthusiastic promoter of Chinese investment in Europe. The country’s Foreign Ministry, which recognizes the “one China” policy, said the national government wouldn’t get involved.
Photo: Screen grab from Facebook
The dispute erupted last year when China banned several orchestras with “Prague” in their names from performing there after Hrib refused to expel a Taiwanese diplomat from a meeting he hosted.
The Czech capital has long been a bastion of support for Tibet, with late Czech president Vaclav Havel and other politicians hosting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, to Beijing’s disapproval.
Hrib’s administration restored Havel’s practice of flying the Tibetan flag from Prague City Hall. The national government has taken a different stance, with police suppressing peaceful demonstrations during a visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 and forcing people to remove Tibetan flags from their homes.
In a clear reference to past political liberalization mass-movements such as the 1968 Prague Spring, which was brutally repressed by Soviet troops, and the 1989 Velvet Revolution against then-Czechoslovakia’s communist regime, Michaela Krausova, head of the Pirate caucus at Prague City Council wrote in a tweet: “we must remind ourselves that conscience is not for sale.”
Speaking of his last visit to Taiwan in March, Hrib says that although 14 years had passed since he had last visited Taiwan, during which time both Taipei and Prague have changed considerably, the two cities’ unshakeable shared belief in freedom and democracy has never changed.
(Bloomberg with staff writer)
Photo: Lee Yue-ling, Liberty Times
True or False
1. Prague’s rejection of the “one China” policy is opposed by the Czech Republic’s central government because it is inconsistent with the position of the Czech president.
2. China has banned several orchestras with “Prague” in their names from performing in the country due to a fracas over Beijing’s “one China” policy.
3. The Czech Republic was previously a communist country.
4. Zdenek Hrib is the first Prague mayor to fly the Tibetan flag at Prague City Hall.
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. sister city phr.
姐妹市 (jie3 mei4 shi4)
2. partnership n.
合作夥伴關係 (he2 zuo4 huo3 ban4 guan1 xi4)
3. “one China” policy phr.
「一個中國」政策 (yi2 ge5 zhong1 guo2 zheng4 ce4)
4. sovereignty n.
主權 (zhu3 quan2)
5. Tibet n.
西藏；圖博 (xi1 zang4; tu2 bo2)
6. embassy n.
大使館 (da4 shi2 guan3)
7. diplomat n.
外交官 (wai4 jiao1 guan1)
8. demonstration n.
示威遊行 (shi4 wei1 you2 xing2)
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