Tibet, symbolism and the Czech Republic

Pro-Tibetan protester in Prague

A video footage image shows an activist replacing a Chinese flag with a Tibetan one in Prague. Police said they detained a dozen activists. (Photo: AP)

“Czech President Milos Zeman recently labelled pro-Tibet protestors “mentally ill” during a visit of the Chinese President to the Czech Republic. What does this say about Zeman and Czech society?

Chinese president Xi Jinping paid an official state visit to the Czech Republic on 28 March – this three day visit was the first historical trip of the Chinese president to the country and represented the culmination of a revised foreign policy course adopted by the government that took power in 2013 and strongly advocated by President Milos Zeman.

Strengthening ties with China could be labeled as President Zeman’s main foreign policy goal in his first term in office and thus Xi’s visit, which brought pledges of Chinese investments and whereby the Czech government elevated the relations with Beijing to a strategic partnership, epitomizes a “mission accomplished”.

While it is yet to see whether the pledged investments will materialize and whether they will benefit the Czech economy or rather serve as geopolitical tools of China’s expansion into Europe, the presidential visit caught media attention for different reasons.”

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This article, written by Jan Hornát and published by Open Democracy on 28 April 2016, shows the weakening of Václav Havel’s heritage.