Czech President Miloš Zeman to visit China in 2022

The visit was announced following Zeman's phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping today.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 07.07.2021 15:52:00 (updated on 07.07.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, July 7 (CTK) - Czech President Miloš Zeman will visit China in 2022, his office announced after the preisdent's phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping today.

The Chinese president called the Czech Republic China's key partner within the EU and both heads of state discussed further economic cooperation between the two countries, as well, Zeman's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said.

During the call, Xi Jinping expressed his solidarity with the Czech Republic in connection with the tornado that hit some villages in South Moravia in late June.

Ovčáček said the phone call was initiated by the Chinese head of state.

During previous visits, the presidents exchanged trees as gifts and the Czech head of state gave an apple tree to his counterpart, Ovčáček noted. They assured one another during the conversation today that both trees are doing well, he added.

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Zeman confirmed to Xi Jinping that he plans to visits China in 2022. If the plan materializes, it will be Zeman's sixth visit to the country during his presidential tenure.

The Czech president visited China for the last time in April 2019.

Originally, he had planned to attend the 17 + 1 summit, bringing together Central and Eastern European states and China. The meeting was postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic and was held this year via videoconference.

Zeman has been a long-term advocate of cooperation with China. In the past, he promised big Chinese investments in the Czech Republic, but their final value is likely to be lower.

He has been repeatedly criticized for his friendly attitude toward China as the state faces allegations of human rights violations.

The economic cooperation was limited by the difficulties of the firm CEFC, which stood behind most Chinese activities in the Czech Republic.

CEFC controlled the assets valued at over EUR 1.5 billion. It gained an almost 100-percent share in the football club SK Slavia Praha, the 100-percent share in the stadium Eden in Prague, the 100-percent share in the company Zdas as well as securities in the airlines Smartwings, the travel agency Canaria Travel, and the company Lapasan, which dominates the brewery Pivovary Lobkowicz Group.

Due to its high debts, CEFC ran into trouble and its founder Ye Jianming, whom Zeman named his honorary consultant in China, was eventually jailed. The activities of the group were taken over by the Chinese company CITIC.

Ovčáček said the phone call had taken place "within communication with European leaders," when Xi spoke over the phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Their virtual summit took place on Monday. In it, Xi Jinping called on France and Germany not to join the U.S. policy against China.

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