Sister-city partnership cancelled over One-China policy . . .
Prague’s City Council voted this week to cancel a sister-city partnership agreement that was concluded with Beijing in 2016. The reason was a clause in the agreement requiring Prague to commit to the ‘One-China’ principle, which asserts that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. Prague's new municipal authorities opposed the provision, which had been adopted by their predecessors. Although the Council’s decision is awaiting approval by Prague’s City Assembly, Beijing has gone ahead and cancelled the twinning agreement, accusing Prague of ‘’turning a blind eye to the norms governing international relations" and repeatedly making "wrong moves and improper comments on issues related to Taiwan and Tibet."
Prague vs. Czech Republic . . .
It is not the first time Prague has angered China. Since his election last year, the outspoken leader of the municipal Pirate Party, Zdenek Hrib, has hosted the head of Tibet’s government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, and flew the Tibet flag at City Hall in March 2019. Hrib also visited Taiwan and met with President Tsai Ing-wen. China has retaliated against Prague, including canceling concerts in China by the Prague Philanthropic Orchestra. The Mayor’s stance is at odds with that of the current Czech government, which has been encouraging Chinese investment and has maintained a friendly policy toward China. This is a rare case of a local politician defying China while also making a principled stand against a national government wanting to promote closer ties with China.
Sub-national governments and foreign policy . . .
As cities, provinces, and states become more involved in global affairs, clashes between the sub-national and the national levels may become more common. On October 10, for example, California’s Assembly Speaker, Anthony Rendon, posted an official statement on Twitter urging ‘’Americans and Californians in all walks of life . . . to support the people of Hong Kong.’’ Despite minor cases here and there in Canada, nothing consequential has happened at the city or provincial level with the potential to affect Canada-China relations at the federal level. But with sub-national actors now proactive in advancing their interests globally, improved co-ordination between the three levels of government in Canada on foreign affairs, especially when it comes to China, is well worth consideration.
- The Straits Times: Cities of Prague and Beijing sever deal over Taiwan row
- The Diplomat: Prague vs. Beijing: Estranged sister cities
- International Journal: Canadian provinces and foreign policy in Asia