News

 

Chinese president’s lavish reception in Prague sparks controversy

 
photo:  (radio.cz)
 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in the Czech Republic on a two-day state visit that aims to symbolize a restart in relations between the two countries. His lavish reception in Prague has evoked mixed reactions with some officials hailing the visit as the beginning of a new era in business relations and others interpreting it as a betrayal of human rights and democratic values.

 
 

The first-ever visit by the Chinese head of state was marked by controversy even before President Xi Jinping’s plane touched down at Vaclav Havel Airport. Twelve people were detained after replacing some of the Chinese flags decorating the main route from the airport to the city centre with Tibetan ones and a group of Chinese nationals waiting to welcome the president en route to his hotel got into a scuffle with protesters out to remind the Chinese leader of his country’s human rights violations.

Tension was also high on the political scene in the wake of an interview that President Miloš Zeman gave to China’s CCTV news on the eve of the high-profile visit in which he claimed that the former right-wing government was to blame for the poor state of Czech-Chinese relations.

“There was a very bad relationship between China and the former government of the Czech Republic. That government was very submissive to pressure from the US and the EU. Now we are again an independent country and we formulate our foreign policy based on our own national interests. And we do not interfere in the internal relations of any other country.”

The president’s words drew sharp criticism from the opposition parties. The head of the former centre-right government Petr Nečas reminded the president that it was in fact his government that set the ground for a more pragmatic policy line in relation to China, while TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek noted that since the Czech Republic is a member of the EU and NATO the president's statement was a rejection of the foreign policy that guarantees the country freedom and security.

Away from the controversy, President Xi Jinping was given a lavish welcome such as Prague had not witnessed for decades – an alley of Czech and Chinese flags marked the route to his hotel, prominently placed billboards welcomed him to the Czech Republic in Czech and Chinese and a welcome with military honours, including a 21 gun salute, awaited him at Prague Castle.

At a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday the Czech and Chinese presidents oversaw the signing of a number of bilateral agreements including a document on strategic partnership. The Czech president and the government which have been actively courting Chinese investments for some time say their efforts will bear fruit in the form of multi-billion crown deals, new job opportunities and increased exports to China. Sceptics argue that so far the Czech Republic has little to show for its diplomatic efforts and countries such as South Korea already have far bigger investments in the Czech Republic without the need for excessive servility.

 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 29.03.2016
 
 
 

Related articles

 
News
 
 

Czech PM suffers a week of heavy...

It has not been a good week for the Czech prime minister. Not only has a European Commission found Andrej...

 
 
News
 
 

Embattled Czech PM blasts European...

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is fighting for his political future. Although the EC’s audit, which...

 
 
News
 
 

PM insists European Commission audit...

A European Commission audit has found Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest...

 
 
News
 
 

Charges dropped against soldiers...

Charges have been dropped against four Czech Army officers in connection with the mysterious death of an...

 
Most favourite

History of Czech fine art

What happened in the realm of fine art at the very beginning of the Czech…

Climate

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical…

The most significant current discoveries

During the last decade, Czech science has made many revolutionary discoveries…

Czech language

The Czech language belongs to the group of West Slavic languages. From another…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

 
 

Facebook recent activity