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Prague officially drops sister-agreement with Beijing amid deepening rift

Prague, Czech Republic – The Prague City Hall officially announced this week that it will terminate the sister-city agreement with Beijing.

Prague municipal authorities confirmed they had decided to drop the sister-agreement with China’s capital city due to the Chinese authorities’ refusal to delete an article which bounds Prague to officially recognize the ‘One China’ policy.

“Human rights are worth more than a panda at the zoo”, argued Jan Čižinsky from Prague 7, hinting to the fact that, to explain her decision to include a ‘One China’ policy clause in the sister-agreement, former Prague mayor Adriana Krnáčová mentioned China’s (unkept) promise to donate a panda to the Prague Zoo.

For months, Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib said that he was seeking to amend the sister-agreement, signed under the previous leadership of Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) in February 2016, to remove the clause in which Prague recognized the ‘One China’ policy. He argued that this clause had no place whatsoever in such an agreement, and that other European cities, including London, didn’t have to include an article on the ‘One China’ policy in their sister-pact with Beijing.

A prominent supporter of Tibet and Taiwan, where he himself spent some time, Prague’s Pirate mayor has been one of the most vocal critics of China since taking office in City Hall.

During summer, Chinese authorities warned the Prague leadership to respect its interests in Taiwan and Tibet, not to undermine bilateral relations and “to act in favour of the common interests of both countries”, as officials in Beijing grew increasingly uneasy over the threat of seeing years of (mostly opaque and controversial) rapprochement jeopardized by the “rogue” Prague mayor.

The dispute surrounding the Prague-Beijing sister-city agreement escalated in recent months, prompting China to cancel, in retaliation, a number of tours planned in the country for Prague-based musical orchestras and cultural institutions, starting from the Prague Philharmonic back in June.

The Czech government, including Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek, was quick to remind that this new development didn’t change anything to the country’s official position, which still recognizes the ‘One China’ policy.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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