Prague, Aug 9 (CTK) – An unofficial delegation of nine Czech lawmakers from four parties will pay a visit to China in late August, with Beijing financing their trip that the Czech lower house organisational committee has refused to approve, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.
The delegation will consist of five deputies from the senior government ANO movement, one from the junior government Social Democrats (CSSD) and one from each the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), both opposition parties that tend to side with the government now and then.
The Chamber of Deputies’ organisational committee did not support the trip at its meeting in July, since it was not clear what its purpose is, what the delegates would do in China and based on what criteria the participants were chosen, the daily writes.
“It is quite strange if this [a trip abroad] is paid for you by a foreign state,” said MP Miroslava Nemcova (opposition Civic Democrats, ODS).
ODS MPs were invited to join the trip, but they preferred to decline the offer, HN writes.
“This was an unusual application and the committee refused to cover the [travel] expenses. If they go there and China finances it, it will be no standard foreign trip,” said MP Jan Bartosek (opposition Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).
“The delegation’s [trip] is not in the interest of the Czech Republic but of the People’s Republic of China,” said MP Jan Farsky (opposition Mayors and Independents, STAN).
In China, the unofficial delegation plans to enhance bilateral relations and discuss economic issues. It will be led by Jan Birke (CSSD), who has been active in the Czech-Chinese chamber of cooperation.
The deputies are to learn the programme of their trip from the staff of the Chinese Embassy in Prague next Tuesday.
Addressed by HN, the embassy did not react to its questions by Wednesday night.
The trip’s goal is to deepen relations between the two countries on the parliamentary level. If the opposition has a problem with China, it is a problem of theirs, Zdenek Ondracek (KSCM), one of the MPs to go to China, is quoted as saying.
The opposition criticises the “delegates” for planning to meet only representatives of a single Chinese province and not their counterparts from the Chinese parliament. They also dislike it that the trip does not have the status of an official visit.
Nemcova mentioned the Czech counter-intelligence service’s (BIS) annual reports warning of Russia and China using benefits to win support from Czech politicians and other officials.
“China’s priority was no longer the extension and deepening of its influencing and infiltration of Czech politics and state power bodies (although these activities continued, too), but the use of these influence for the benefit of China’s domestic as well as foreign political interests,” the BIS wrote in its report for 2016.
This is not the first similar dispute over a foreign trip in Czech parliament. In 2014, the opposition criticised KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip’s trip to Moscow and the Chamber of Deputies distanced itself from it, the daily writes.