China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that several pro-Taiwan stands by Czech Pirate Party member and Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib ‘harmed the feelings of the Chinese people,’ and urged the city’s government to change its course as soon as possible and stop ‘wantonly undermining overall China-Czech relations, or otherwise face damage to its own interests.
Since becoming Mayor of Prague, Hrib has been a thorn in the side of the authoritarian communist regime in China as he openly opposes the “one China” clause in the sister city agreement signed by Prague and Beijing, welcomes dissidents from Tibet, and has met with Taiwanese leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen in March. Hrib has openly criticized China for using political power to suppress cultural exchanges.
After refusing to exclude a Taiwanese diplomat from a meeting held by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Industry in March, China’s Ministry of Culture announced it had canceled several scheduled trips to China by Czech cultural organizations, including the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra had originally been scheduled to perform in Chinese cities in September and October of this year.
In response, Hrib, who first came to Taiwan as an exchange student, praised the Philharmonic for standing up to pressure from China and not renouncing their city. He said that the shows could be scheduled with partner cities in other countries, including Taipei.
In Beijing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the Prague city government authorities have performed very badly on issues concerning China’s national sovereignty and core interests. He added that Prague had “seriously harmed the feelings of the Chinese people” and undermined bilateral relations, especially the “good atmosphere” of local exchanges and cooperation.
Geng then said, “We urge the Prague authorities and individual politicians to change their minds as soon as possible and not to wantonly undermine the overall situation of China-Czech relations. Otherwise, their own interests will ultimately be damaged.”