Xi Jinping visits Czech Republic
Czech human rights activists staged protests as Chinese President Xi Jinping began his state visit to Prague on Monday. German President Joachim Gauck had visited Xi in Beijing just last week. The press looks at how European politicians and activists treat the Chinese head of state.
Eastern Europe currying favour with Moscow and Beijing
At the end of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Prague, the liberal daily Dennik N takes a critical look at the relations that the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary maintain with China and Russia:
“Russia is actively trying to weaken the Western democracies, it has done what it can to ensure that the flood of refugees to Europe flows apace, it finances extremists, encourages distrust in the constitutional state and the free media. ... China, too, isn't just a neutral observer: it uses its economic might to pursue similar goals. ... The fact that the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are kowtowing to Beijing and Moscow isn't just embarrassing, it also casts doubts on their foreign policy orientation. And this strategy has failed to bring the hoped for economic advantages. It's no wonder the allies of China and Russia are the very countries that foment nationalism and rail most vigorously against refugees.”
Inconsistent protests against Chinese policy
During Xi Jinping's visit President Miloš Zeman spoke of a new beginning and expressed hopes of securing billions in Chinese investments. Meanwhile Czech human rights activists staged a protest against the Chinese head of state. The left-wing daily Právo pokes fun at the protesters:
“Our activists who desecrate Chinese flags and criticise Zeman for strengthening ties with China lack consistency. Where were they when the Chinese president rode through London in a golden coach with Queen Elizabeth? Or when he was received with great pomp at the White House? Xi conducted a series of negotiations with leading US entrepreneurs in the US and also visited the Microsoft headquarters. Our intellectual elite didn't hoist a Tibetan flag when Boeing signed a contract for the sale of 300 ultra-modern aircraft to China. There were no demonstrations outside the US embassy in Prague back then.”
Words won't change China
The desire for freedom will always forge ahead, German President Joachim Gauck said in his speech on Wednesday. But his words won't have any effect, the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau comments:
“The words of the pastor from the GDR sound like a warning directed at the Communist leadership in Beijing. It is a long time since a politician has shown such commitment vis-à-vis China. … This, however, doesn't change the fact that Gauck's bold commitment won't have any real consequences. The Chinese leadership doesn't really care what the rest of the world thinks. The world's most populous country, second-largest economy and major nuclear, financial, naval and global power won't be told what it should or shouldn't do. All that counts for the Communist Party leadership is the mood among its people - and contrary to Gauck's prediction there are no signs of unrest there.”
Will anyone in Prague follow Gauck's example?
Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in the Czech Republic on an official visit next Monday. The liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny asks whether the Prague leadership will be as bold towards its guest as German President Joachim Gauck was during his China visit:
“The representatives of the Chinese regime are used to being treated obsequiously in the countries they visit because the latter are usually hoping for good economic cooperation. So they were all the more surprised when Gauck took a different approach and questioned to what extent the Communist Party's power monopoly conforms with the principles of a state governed by the rule of law. He showed interest in the rights of workers and trade unions. And he placed emphasis on human rights and talked about specific cases. On Monday Xi Jinping will arrive in Prague. It will be interesting to see if anyone here will dare to follow Gauck's example in any way.”