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Latest for @dw_chinese - Following his death in January, former Czech Senate leader's wife accused #China of causing his death through threats during a TV interview. I talked to @JirousFilip about the political implication behind this tragic event.…
Filip points out that the striking part of this incident was the fact that the Czech president's office actually asked the Chinese Embassy to send the threatening letter to Kubera.
“The Czech president’s own chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, asked the Chinese embassy to write that threatening letter. Mynář belongs to a China lobby circle around a large Czech corporation called PPF, which has huge commercial interests in China and ...
... has been utilizing its political influence to keep the Czech-Chinese relationship in a good shape since at least 2003," Filip said.
Kubera's wife said during the interview that she found two threatening letters in Kubera's possession. One is from the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic and the other one is from the Czech President's office.
Kubera was also invited to a Lunar New Year banquet sponsored by the Chinese Embassy on January 17, and the Chinese ambassador threatened him to cancel the planned trip to Taiwan in February.
Three days later, Kubera suddenly passed away. Doctor's diagnosis showed that he may have suffered from cardiac arrest on a few days prior to his death, which shows he was going through a lot of stress at the time.
Filip points out that the Czech President's failure to fulfill economic promises made by China over the last few years caused the general public to lose faith in empty promises made by the Zeman administration and the Chinese government.
"To be fair, except for the local Communist Party, there remain very few people who would push for more economic cooperation with China in a manner that’s similar to Zeman’s economic diplomacy," Filip told me.
On the contrary, certain factions with the Czech society have positive perceptions of Taiwan, and when compared to the international isolation that Taiwan has to generally deal with, the bilateral relations between both countries has been quite successful and strong.
“There is now certainly more space for the Czech-Taiwan relations to improve and to be strengthened. To some extent, this is the result of the growing negative opinion that the Czech people have towards China.
Additionally, the recent argument between the Prague City government, the Chinese government and Taiwan has also helped to increase Taiwan’s presence in the Czech Republic," Filip said.
And while #Beijing continues to use economic leverages to threaten Czech politicians, the lack of actual investment made by Beijing and the small amount of investment that the Czech Republic has made in China made the economic threats rather hollow, Filip said.
"“The actual economic influence that China has over the Czech Republic is smaller when it’s compared to Beijing’s political influence over Prague,” he concluded.
But since the beginning of the #COVID19 pandemic, the Czech China lobby circle has been re-energized both by the pandemic and China's attempt to frame itself as the savior.
Some of these politicians have returned to rather prominent positions and try to restart the bilateral relations between Beijing and Prague.
"This could slow the process of political shift, but unless both countries reach substantive economic cooperation, I don’t think the strategy will be sustainable in the long run," Filip predicted.
Here is the Mandarin version of the piece -…
Special thanks to Filip for always sharing the insights of how China operates in the Czech Republic, which has become a new frontier of China's influence operation in the EU. I finally feel like a proper East Asia correspondent for a European media outlet through this story. lol
@dktatlow and @melissakchan, thought you ladies might be interested in this one.
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