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Partnership shows Prague incompetent in talks with China

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Prague, Feb 27 (CTK) – The partnership deal signed with Beijing may benefit the City of Prague, but its special mention of Taiwan as an inseparable part of China is embarrassing and shows Prague’s weakness and unpreparedness for talks with the Chinese, expert Jan Bejkovsky said in Saturday’s issue of daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).

Bejkovsky, a Chinese studies expert at Prague’s Economic University (VSE), refers to the partnership agreement between the cities of Prague and Beijing that the Prague Assembly approved on Thursday.

Its article saying that the Czech capital city recognises the one-Chine policy and also considers Taiwan an inseparable part of China has met with criticism in the Czech Republic.

Bejkovsky said Czechs cannot but benefit from the Prague-Beijing agreement as an opportunity for an exchange that would help them better understand the Chinese society.

“China is the world’s second largest economy. We must deal with it. We cannot turn a blind eye on it and pretend being uninterested. Of course, the question is whether the forced-out mention of Taiwan is worth of it,” Bejkovsky told MfD.

He said the first part of the above article in the Prague-Beijing deal is not controversial and is in harmony with the position declared by the Czech Foreign Ministry.

“It is not unusual that the Chinese push through a one-China declaration as part of documents. The question is, naturally, whether it should be part of an agreement on partnership between the two capital cities,” Bejkovsky said.

“However, the addendum mentioning Taiwan is strange. This way of Taiwan being explicitly mentioned is unusual,” he said.

“The addendum is redundant in its meaning. Our recognition of one-China policy means that we do not recognise [independent] Taiwan, but only the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China. The Prague-Beijing agreement, nevertheless, contains a forced-out confirmation of [Prague’s] view of Taiwan as part of the Chinese territory. This is far from usual and it is strange that it has appeared in a document that is not an official statement by the Foreign Ministry,” Bejkovsky said.

He said he believes that by proposing the mention of Taiwan, the Chinese “only tried what they can dare to do. They only wanted to show that they are capable of pushing this sentence through as part of similar deals,” he said, adding that it may help Beijing officials on the domestic scene as a piece of evidence proving their strength and negotiating skills.

“Furthermore, a general warming of Czech-Chinese relations has been spoken about, and the plan of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Czech Republic has been confirmed. I suppose they simply test us to see how far we will let them go,” Bejkovsky said.

The Prague City’s negotiators are to blame for the controversial mention of Taiwan. They underestimated the preparations for the talks with the Chinese, something that frequently happens to Czech officials, unfortunately, Bejkovsky said.

Everybody knows that the Chinese are extremely skilled negotiators. The Prague City Hall should have realised that the partnership agreement is no routine deal and that it would attract attention, Bejkovsky said.

He said the Chinese must have been aware that they demanded something unusual. They succeeded in having the article put in the agreement though it goes beyond usual texts of similar documents, Bejkovsky said.

Asked whether the new deal with Beijing may harm Prague’s relations with Taipei, which, too, is a partner city of Prague, he said the Prague-Taipei partnership may have influenced the wording of the above controversial article.

“It is clear that they will notice this in Taiwan. They can hardly overlook it and it cannot have any positive influence. On the other hand, I think our cultural and business cooperation with Taiwan has fared well so far, in spite of the Czech foreign policy’s inconsistent approach,” Bejkovsky said.

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