Vystrcil's clarification overdue to dispel anxiety of Czech firms in China

By Cui Hongjian Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/17 20:52:17

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

In response to a question about a Chinese importer's cancelation of a Czech piano order after Czech Senate Speaker Milos Vystrcil's Taiwan visit, the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson on Wednesday noted that the visit has "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people."

In the question, the foreign reporter mentioned that some Western countries view the cancellation as a retaliation measure. Obviously, while China is maintaining quite restraint, concerns over the aftershocks from the Czech politician's provocation to business activities between the two countries linger on. 

When China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a travel warning on Chinese people traveling to the Czech Republic a week ago, even though the warning is about Czech's surging COVID-19 cases, it's also widely seen as a form of punishment for Vystrcil's visit.

A quick scan of the foreign media's recent reports about Vystrcil's Taiwan visit gives an impression that it seems like a sanction from China is awaited, and the reason is quite clear: a politician from a country that had established diplomatic relations with China has blatantly violated the one-China principle. Vystrcil had crossed a red line.

The Czech government is trying to make up for the damage to China-Czech relations caused by the bad influence of the anti-China action of the Senate Speaker. Czech President Milos Zeman on Sunday slammed the visit to the island of Taiwan by the head of the Czech Senate, calling it a "boyish provocation." Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on the same day that Vystrcil didn't understand the bigger world and he will try to prevent losses for Czech firms.

Vystrcil has turned his back on the island of Taiwan after returning to Czech Republic, arguing that he never violated the one-China principle or called Taiwan an independent country. However, the attempt at verbal sleight is not persuasive enough to dispel doubts in the market.

In his attempt to seek extenuation, Vystrcil neither acknowledged his wrongdoing nor made an apology. The Czech Senate hasn't made any form of statement to clarify that such wrongdoing which severely undermines China's core national interests will be completely eradicated in the future. After hurting the Chinese people's feelings and not doing anything to repair the damage to the bilateral relations, how can one expect that the business activities will be carried out as usual?

The move has already impacted the public opinion and foundation of China-Czech relations. Out of spontaneous reactions to protect their own interests, it is difficult for the Chinese people and companies to continue to cooperate with Czech business partners with confidence. Therefore, some Czech businessmen in China might continue to find themselves in a difficult spot, especially when marketing their products as Czech.

To dispel such anxiety in the market, it's necessary for Vystrcil or the Czech Senate to make a clarification and apology about his Taiwan visit in a timely manner, so as to eliminate the baneful influence of the erroneous action and avoid further harm to the overall trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The author is director of the Department of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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