Prague votes for controversial partnership agreement with Beijing
The Czech capital, Prague, has voted to become a sister city of the Chinese capital, Beijing. The agreement covers a series of areas of cooperation but also includes a controversial clause recognizing the concept of One China.
Prague has a lot to gain from the connection with 22 million strong Beijing. The agreement covers exchanges and cooperation over tourism, culture, education, transport, and urban development. But clause three of the proposed text obliges Prague to recognize the principle of One China and includes a line that ‘Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory.’
At a protest meeting in Prague’s Wenceslas Square later on Thursday night the timing of Prague’s decision, on the 68th anniversary of the takeover of power in Czechoslovakia by the Communist Party in 1948 was pointed out. Speakers also questioned where the line would be drawn in fostering closer and more profitable political and economic relations with China.
Although a reshaped Czech foreign policy has already accepted the One China policy with regards to both Taiwan and Tibet, the move by Prague is nonetheless is a step too far for some leading members of the council.
One of the those opposed to the new agreement was former city executive member and recently elected Green Party leader Matěj Stropnický.
Stropnický said he tried without success to push through a motion getting rid of the controversial clause in the agreement. He said Prague council members voting in favour of the ‘sister city’ status appeared to fear the consequences of promised Chinese investments in the Czech capital drying up if the deal was not signed with the One China
It’s not quite clear when the five year cooperation deal will be finally signed by mayors of Prague and Beijing. But the most likely date would be in March when Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to visit Prague and the mayor of Beijing, Wang Anshun, is expected to be in the delegation.