The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to the east. This landlocked country is leading a crusade in Europe. It is taking on China, supporting Taiwan, and clearing the way for the European Union (EU) to rise against China as one entity. The country, also known as Czechia, holds the key to Europe recognising Taiwan and cutting down on its ties with China. Therefore, the Czech Republic has emerged as a prime target for China to use its proxies in. China, using its assets in the European nation, is trying to mould the public opinion in favour of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
But the Czechs are willing to have none of it. They are, in fact, disgusted by China and its web of proxies in their country, which is why they have cleared the way for China hawk, Petr Fiala to become their next prime minister. As luck would have it, here’s how the prime minister-elect views China. In an interview with VOA, Fiala said, “At least for the next four years, Beijing and Moscow will not have as easy a time as they did in recent years.” Petr said he expects the incoming coalition, despite its philosophical differences, to adopt a foreign policy that aligns with the strongly pro-human rights, pro-democratic ideals of his former boss – the founding President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel.
China’s propaganda operations in the Czech Republic:
The Czech Republic was a part of the Soviet Union prior to the collapse of 1991. As such, it had a strong communist infrastructure which had an inclination towards both Moscow, as well as Beijing. Today, China is using whatever remains of that Marxist-Leninist infrastructure to run its propaganda campaigns in the country. China is using its agents in the media and academia to influence public opinion in the Czech Republic, albeit, unsuccessfully.
China’s propaganda operations are actually working against it, since the people of the Czech Republic see right through the communist nation’s nefarious agenda. According to the Jamestown Foundation, a series of scandals have turned Czech public opinion increasingly sceptical about the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the last few years.
Also read: The last Czech Senate Speaker was possibly murdered. But that doesn’t stop the new one from going against China
For example, the Czech financial conglomerate Home Credit, which has major stakes in the Chinese market, orchestrated a public opinion campaign to “rationalize” the debate on China. The company surreptitiously helped set up an “independent” China-focused think tank, called “Sinoskop”, and hired a public relations (PR) company to place its content in Czech media.
China is also beginning to threaten its critics in the Czech Republic with legal consequences. Who can forget how Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi mounted an attack against Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil?
Milos Vystrcil last year led a contingent of at least 90 people from his country to Taiwan. In the aftermath of the visit, Wang Yi lashed out at Vystrcil, saying that the trip is, “an unendurable provocation for which there will be retribution.” He had also warned Vystrcil, saying, “the Chinese government and Chinese people won’t take a laissez-faire attitude or sit idly by and will make him pay a heavy price for his short-sighted behaviour and political opportunism.”
China also exercises near-complete control over a Czech publication called Literární noviny (Literary News). Since 2017, this publication has had an official agreement with Guangming Ribao – which is a Chinese daily published in the People’s Republic of China, to run its syndication project “Reading CHINA+” in the Czech Republic. In addition, China is also using the services of certain Czech ‘scholars’ to carry forward its propaganda in the Central European country.
Why China will fail:
The Czech Republic supports Taiwan, is against Chinese human rights abuses, and is filled with politicians who hate the Chinese Communist Party from their gut. The Czech Republic, along with Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia, is leading Europe’s anti-China campaign. It is just too invested in taking on China, and will not change course come what may.
Also read: EU’s U-turn against Xi Jinping is going to hurt! China tries to bully pro-Taiwan Czech Republic and falls on its face
The mayor of Prague – which is the capital of the Czech Republic, is a pronounced China hawk. Zdenek Hrib has led the European mayors in their criticism of China, and he has not minced words in his criticism of China’s handling of Hong Kong, its genocide against the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang, ethnic Mongols and the overall takedown of freedoms in the country. Since assuming power in the capital city – the mayor has condemned China as an ‘unreliable partner’. He was also part of the delegation that visited Taiwan last year.
In light of heightened Chinese influence operations in the Czech Republic, Senate President Milos Vystrcil has come forward and called on all European powers to mount a united front against China. China’s propaganda operations in the Czech Republic are proving to be counter-productive. They are turning the people of the country even more against China, and the net effect of the same will soon be reflected in the anti-China policies of the new Czech government.
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