Prague agrees to sister city deal with Beijing
Raymond Johnston, Prague Post | February 25, 2016
Agreement calls for Prague to recognize One-China policy
The Prague City Assembly approved a sister city agreement between Prague and Beijing. The agreement includes recognizing the One-China policy, meaning acknowledging that Beijing rules over both mainland China and the Taiwan as one inseparable territory.
The five-year agreement, approved with 35 votes out the 65 seats in Prague Assembly, calls for cooperation in tourism, trade, culture, healthcare, education and other areas.
Support for the agreement came from ANO, the Social Democrats (ČSSD), part of the ODS and the Communists (KSČM).
The idea for the sister city partnership was initiated by Beijing.
Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said the agreement calls for both sides to cooperate and to organize exchanges aimed at mutual development and prosperity, and the agreement was mutually beneficial to both sides.
Prague and Beijing representatives are also supposed to hold regular meetings.
The point about the One-China policy was the most controversial. Assembly member Lukáš Kaucký (ČSSD) said the policy was in line with the existing foreign policy of the Czech Republic and that it was included because Prague also has had a sister city agreement with Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, since 2001.
TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek was among critics, saying the city overstepped its authority by engaging in foreign policy, as that was the domain of the national government, according to the Czech Constitution.
“There’s no reason why a clause about high-level international policy should be in an agreement between two cities,” Kalousek said, adding that its only possible purpose was to show timidity and submissiveness to an authoritarian regime.
The head of the TOP 09 group in the Prague Assembly, Václav Novotný, said the One-China clause seemed to be the main focus of the agreement, as most of the other points were fairly bland and routine.
Green Party chairman Matěj Stropnický, who is also in the Prague Assembly, said the one-party clause did not belong, as the agreement was about tangible cooperation in specific areas and not a political statement.
“A partnership that begins with one side giving ultimatums isn’t a partnership,” Stropnický said.
Assembly member Ondřej Mirovský (Green, Three-party Coalition) posted his objections on Facebook. “Prague bent down into the mud in front of China … with a partnership with Beijing where Prague recognizes Taiwan as part of China and disagrees with an independent Tibet. It is an undignified shame on Prague,” he said.
Former Mayor Tomáš Hudeček (unaffiliated), who is still in the City Assembly, said Prague has nothing to learn from Beijing under the exchange concept. “I think the Prague–Beijing agreement is just a political affair,” he said.