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Gov’t approves Zeman’s trip to China

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Prague, May 10 (CTK) – The Czech government approved the proposal for President Milos Zeman’s visit to China scheduled for May 11-18 today, cabinet spokesman Martin Ayrer has tweeted.

Zeman said previously during his tour of the Liberec Region that he would fly there regardless of the ministers’ decision.

The junior ruling Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) called on Zeman to stay in the Czech Republic over the current government crisis on Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (KDU-CSL) said before the cabinet’s meeting that the trip to China should not be entirely cancelled as along with Zeman, a delegation of 200 Czech businesspeople planned to go there.

This is why he abstained from the vote on Zeman’s trip to China, while the other KDU-CSL ministers, Marian Jurecka (agriculture) and Daniel Herman (culture), voted against it.

“The president should prefer fulfilling his constitutional duties to visiting China, this is why I voted against the approval of his journey today,” Jurecka tweeted.

The ANO movement’s ministers supported Zeman’s trip, Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) said.

“In view of the president’s programme (in China) and the quite large mission of businesspeople, he cannot be replaced by someone else, though a government member,” Brabec told reporters.

The politicians will manage it without him for a week, he said.

The journey’s costs have been put at 5.6 million crowns. However, the sum does not include the costs of the transport by military planes and the protection of constitutional officials.

According to the original plan, six ministers were to accompany Zeman in China: Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik, Industry and Trade Minister Jiri Havlicek (all CSSD), Transport Minister Dan Tok and Regional Development Minister Karla Slechtova (both ANO).

However, three CSSD ministers, Zaoralek, Chovanec and Ludvik, refused to go to China over the government crisis. They will be replaced by their deputy ministers in the delegation.

Havlicek and the two ministers for ANO will leave for China as planned.

Havlicek said after the government meeting that he would go there to support Czech firms and businesspeople in the delegation. “The main reason is that I have my agenda there, for instance, a meeting with my Chinese counterpart,” he said.

Zeman will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, billionaire Zhang Jindong and the Mayor of Shanghai in China. His meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will pay an official visit to China then, has been arranged as well.

The quite high costs of the trip to China are justified by a high number of the delegation members and accompanying people as well as the participation of the ministers and by the fact that the visit will partially take place outside Beijing, says a report submitted to the government.

However, it was worked out before the CSSD ministers decided not to fly to China.

($1=24.497 crowns)

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