Prague to become sister city to Shanghai

The agreement contains some controversial clauses

Prague City Hall has agreed to become a sister city to Shanghai. While Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) has said the agreement was a standard apolitical one between two cities, critics have pointed out that it contains controversial points such as acknowledging that Tibet is part of China, in addition to recognizing the one China policy.

This follows after a sister city agreement signed last year with Beijing that also included the one-China policy, stating that Taiwan is a part of China.

“We approved the draft text of an agreement on the establishment of a sister city relationship between Shanghai and Prague. It is a generic, apolitical text between towns with areas of cooperation on economics and trade, science and technology, culture, education, health, sports and more,” Krnáčová said earlier in April when the agreement was announced.

“Shanghai is a technological and economic center of China, and the cooperation will therefore be very beneficial for Prague. I personally see great potential in modern technologies under the concept of Smart Cities. But of course the benefits will be much more, and in economic and trade cooperation and in tourism,” she added.

But a handful of Prague politicians are not happy with the deal. They were unsuccessful in making changes.

Some14 Prague city councilors voted to open the agreement for changes. City Councilor Václav Novotný (TOP 09) proposed opening the agreement so the controversial points could be removed.

Prague 7 Mayor Jan Čižinský (KDU-ČSL) was among those who favored changing the agreement. “It is not acceptable that a clause talks about the politics of Tibet,” Čižinský said, according to daily Pražský deník.

Chairwoman of the Municipal Council for Culture and Foreign Affairs Eliška Kaplický Fuchsová (ANO) said it was not possible to change the agreement, but did not specify why.

Prague has been hoping to court favor from China in order to acquire a panda for the Prague Zoo. The zoo is currently holding an architectural competition for a pavilion for the panda. Proposals should be presented to the public soon.

Prague Zoo has been ranked as one of the top zoos in the world. Last year, it had 1.4 million visitors, making it the city's second most popular attraction.

Currently, there are 24 zoos in 14 countries that have giant pandas. Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Spain have giant pandas in Europe. They are considered endangered.

The date for when both sides will sign the Prague–Shanghai sister city agreement is not clear. 

Beijing and Prague became sister cities in March 2016. Both Beijing and Shanghai have direct flights to Prague. Direct flights between Beijing and Prague began in September 2015, and between Shanghai and Prague in June 2016.

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