Zdenek Hrib, the mayor of Prague since November 2018, protested against the domination that the communist regime in China is trying to impose beyond its borders, after announcing the end of the “brotherhood agreement” that the Czech capital had with Beijing, described the weekly Welt am Sonntag.
Hrib also offered some advice to other European countries on how to deal with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “Most importantly, I want to urge all of you not to give up your values and personal integrity for fear of threats and extortion,” he said.
“I would like to ask you to choose partners who not only share common values, such as freedom and democratic principles, but also respect each other,” he added, addressing the European democracies.
Hrib called the Chinese dictatorship “an unreliable trading partner” because it had prioritized its political zeal over anything else, even profitable business, and could “turn important business contracts or declarations of cooperation into worthless paper in a matter of seconds.”
He accused the CCP of going back on its word and not carrying out investments worth 10 billion euros (US$11.14 billion) as promised, despite the fact that the European country even changed its foreign policy as agreed.
“In any case, economic relations between the Czech Republic and China are characterized by a strong imbalance,” he said.
He also condemned Beijing for punishing those who criticize the numerous violations of human rights that the party is currently perpetrating, highlighting the massive and forced removal of organs from prisoners of conscience, mainly practitioners of the ancient Chinese spiritual discipline of Falun Dafa, and as well as Christians, Tibetans, and Uighurs.
The regime’s punitive measures recently crystallized in the abrupt cancellation, “for purely political reasons,” of the tours that four Czech music orchestras were planning in China, simply because the CCP came to regard Prague as a “rebel” capital.
Previously, Prague’s city council asked for a review of a controversial clause in the brotherhood agreement between the two capitals, after denouncing that some of its content was “highly political,” as it forced them to “speak out against the independence of Taiwan and Tibet,” explained Hrib.
One less capital, one more capital
However, the CCP insisted that if the pact was not kept intact it would be rejected in its entirety. “So we lost a twin city, but gained a new one. Next Monday we will sign a twinning agreement with Taipei, the capital of Taiwan,” said Hrib.
It’s worth noting that Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory so it promised it would retake the island at some point, even if it had to use force, the South China Morning Post reported.
If implemented, the new brotherhood agreement would come after Taiwan widely re-elected its incumbent president, Tsai Ing-Wen, in place of the pro-Beijing candidate, a “coup” for the Chinese dictatorship.
“As mayor, I am working to fulfill my campaign promise to return to a course of respect for democracy and human rights,” he wrote to Hrib adding that he has closed the Visegrad Group’s “Free Cities Pact” with other EU capitals.
Economy versus democracy
Hrib explained that it does not want to break diplomatic or economic ties with China, considering it is something “extreme and counterproductive.”
“But I would advise them to think twice before sleeping with such a dangerous and unreliable partner,” the mayor reiterated.
He pointed out the scandal that the recent discovery of the CCP’s attempt to influence public opinion in the Czech Republic in its favor, by maneuvering through the Czech company Home Credit, whose millionaire owner has important interests in China.
“Together we can better counteract the rising tide of populism and anti-democratic tendencies, not only in Europe but all over the world,” he stressed.