Czech Minister of Culture protests China's cancellation of Czech concerts

Czech Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek protested at his meeting with Chinese ambassador Zhang Jianmin today


Written by ČTK Published on 09.09.2019 14:09:23 (updated on 09.09.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Sept 9 (CTK) – Czech Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek protested at his meeting with Chinese ambassador Zhang Jianmin today against China’s cancellation of Czech music ensembles’ concerts in China, saying this harms the image of China in the eyes of Czech people, the ministry has announced.

As China’s representative in Czechia, Zhang Jianmin bears responsibility for those steps, the ministry wrote in a press release.

Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD), a former Czech foreign minister, said he is ready to resume positive cooperation between the two countries in culture only on condition that both parties approach each other with mutual respect and take each other’s different features into account.

Chinese authorities have postponed the planned tour of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia orchestra and cancelled the planned performances of the Prazak Quartet, the Czech Radio Symphonic Orchestra and the Guarneri Trio Prague, probably due to Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib’s (Pirates) previous statement that the City Hall wants the formulation about Prague’s recognition of One China removed from a partnership agreement between the capital cities Prague and Beijing.

Zaoralek told Zhang that much has been done for the development of Czech-Chinese relations in a variety of areas, including culture. The latest development, however, seriously harms the relations and casts doubts on the hitherto efforts, Zaoralek added.

Talking to journalists later today, he said the Chinese side has clearly acted counter to previous bilateral agreements.

“I said I would not listen to any words about cooperation unless the way of acting changes on the part of China. The [unfortunate] practice must end immediately, otherwise I cannot imagine cooperation in culture,” Zaoralek said.

“I told the ambassador that I am ready to return to cultural cooperation on condition that the steps, which are unacceptable and blow up everything that has been achieved in Czech-Chinese relations, are discontinued,” he said.

In a hyperbole, he said he is starting to feel that the compositions of Czechs Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) and Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) will be banned in China only because the two composers lived in Prague for many years.

“I made the ambassador aware that he bears responsibility for the development of Czech-Chinese relations. I took effort to progress forwards and develop [bilateral relations] in a number of areas, including culture, but I have been shocked of late. The practice is at sharp variance with what has been agreed upon,” Zaoralek said, referring to his position of the Czech foreign minister in 2014-2017.


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