Prague ending ties with Beijing a claptrap move: experts

By Zhang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/9 21:23:40

Prague ending ties with Beijing a claptrap move damaging its long-term interest: experts    

Visitors watch the performance during a Chinese New Year celebration in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Feb. 18, 2015. Happy Chinese New Year celebrations were held in Prague on Wednesday, with performers from China's Hunan Province bringing dances to the local audiences. Photo: Xinhua

Prague's decision to unilaterally end its sister-city agreement with Beijing damaged the mutual trust between China and the Czech Republic and hampered its own long-term interests, a Chinese expert warned on Wednesday. 

Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib announced the city was ending its partnership with Beijing and the decision was voted and approved by the capital city's council on Monday, according to media reports. 

The council's decision is "treachery," undermines bilateral relations and sabotages the benign atmosphere of local exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, according to an official statement posted by the Chinese Embassy to the Czech Republic on its website. 

The dispute can be traced back to January when Mayor Hrib suggested excluding an article acknowledging the one-China principle from the sister-city agreement.

In response to the vote, Beijing filed a solemn protest against Prague, according to the spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy. 

Chinese experts noted the move would negatively influence relatively stable China-Czech relations and amplify the negative aspects, damaging mutual trust and people-to-people exchanges. 

Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that the Czech government and the city councils "don't stand on the same line on some issues."  

The Czech government has consistently upheld the one-China principle, the embassy spokesperson noted. 

China was willing to work with the Czech government and all walks of life to continue to promote exchanges and cooperation at all levels, including strengthening local friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

The Czech Embassy in China on Wednesday reiterated its national stance in support of the principle when reached by the Global Times. 

China and the Czech Republic have been cooperating in trade, economics and culture, with "top-level communications in a positive momentum," Cui said.  

Trade between China and the Czech Republic reached $13.58 billion from January to June, up 7.7 percent year-on-year. 

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists going to the country exceeded 250,000 in the first half of 2019, according to data released by the Czech tourism authority. 

Prague's action showed the city officials' populist tendency, Cui said. 

"The mayor and a few politicians take this claptrap action without considering what's beneficial for the people in the long term," he said.

Mayor Hrib previously refused to expel a "diplomat" from the island of Taiwan. 

In March, his municipal administration flew the flag used by the 14th Dalai Lama's "government-in-exile" from Prague's town hall. 

Prague and the mayor behaved badly on issues concerning China's core interests and sovereignty, Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press briefing in July. 

He urged certain politicians to change course and stop undermining China-Czech relations, to avoid hurting their own interests.

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