(TibetanReview.net, Feb10’21) – Mayor Zdeněk Hřib of the Czech Republic’s capital Prague has, in a recent interview, dismissed China’s threats to punish his country and city over his stand on the “One China” policy, saying there has been no repercussions. He has spoken of having not suffered “any personal cost” for his support for Taiwan and Tibet. And he has expressed belief that China’s power to inflict economic damage on the Czech Republic in response to such expressions of solidarity has been greatly overestimated.
In an interview with the Czech think tank Sinopsis, Hřib has said he was not afraid of angering pro-China figures in Czech society through his actions as mayor, such as traveling to Taiwan or inviting Lobsang Sangay, the executive leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile, to visit Prague City Hall.
“I don’t feel that I have suffered any personal cost for my support for Tibet or Taiwan,” despite threats of economic retribution leveled by China after a large Czech delegation visited Taiwan last year,” the CNA news agency Feb 9 quoted the mayor as saying.
He has also called it his “a moral duty” to point out that China has been “an unreliable business partner” that had failed to follow through on promised investment in the Czech Republic, and that, in any case, speaking out against human rights violations was of greater priority than economic gain.
He has said his country should offer partnership and cooperation to others who pursue that goal rather than simply writing off the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exile spiritual leader, as “an unnecessary complication for business”.
Hřib has also explained a decision he made in 2019 to cancel Prague’s sister city relationship with Beijing amid the latter’s refusal to renegotiate on the language in the agreement related to Beijing’s One-China policy.
He has said the partnership agreement, which was signed by his predecessor in 2016, was overly political and included multiple projects that benefitted only Beijing.