The mayor of Prague from 2018, Zdenek Hrib is not afraid of striking the hornet’s nest. Since assuming the power of the capital city of the Czech Republic, the mayor has condemned China as an ‘unreliable partner’, criticized its treatment of ethnic minorities like Uighur Muslims and promoted ties with Taiwan by meeting Chinese dissenters. In the wake of rising Wuhan virus cases in the world, which started from the Chinese soil—Hirb is seen taking the fight to the Chinese and is not shying away to give an occasional piece of his mind to Beijing. Hrib is one of the few and rare world leaders that have shown the will to differentiate between black and white. He has emerged as the shining ray of hope in European politics that is skeptical of Beijing’s promises and its strategic aims.
The Czech Republic was among numerous European countries to receive virus test kits and other medical supplies from China in recent weeks. But out of the 300,000 rapid Wuhan virus test kits ordered by the Czech Republic, up to 80 percent of the test kits were found faulty and not working properly. The test kits, worth 54 million korunas (€1.83 million), showed false positive as well as negative results. Such duplicity must have irked Hirb.
The diplomatic charm offensive strategy that Beijing has employed to change the narrative on the world map about the Wuhan virus pandemic is one big sham exercise. Countries like Spain, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey, and Ukraine have also received faulty test kits and other medical equipment’s from China that had to be returned. Hirb, the Pirate Party member of the Czech Republic recognizes China’s despicable mask diplomacy and has minced no words in claiming that China is solely doing it for business purposes.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Hirb referring to China’s aid to the European nations said, “This isn’t a humanitarian gift or aid, from China’s perspective, it’s business.”
Hrib is accurate in his assessment if the recent example of Italy is to go by. For the Communist Party of China, the Wuhan Virus pandemic is a money-making exercise. When Wuhan virus struck China, Rome was generous enough to donate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the mighty Dragon, but China being the rather disingenuous country it is profiteered out of Italy’s misery. Beijing shamelessly sold the same donations back to Italy, albeit at a price to achieve profit.
As if wiping out the elderly population of Italy was not enough, Beijing now also wants to profiteer out of Rome’s misery. In fact, this only adds up to China’s reprehensible “masks diplomacy”.
Hirb has been defiant of the Chinese on previous occasions too. Earlier in January, Zdenek Hrib ended sister city arrangement with the Chinese capital saying he would not sign a deal that forced his city to ‘speak out against independence of Tibet and Taiwan’. Hrib, also flew the Tibetan flag over city hall on March 10 to commemorate the anniversary of the region’s failed 1959 revolt against Communist Party rule. “I would really like us to be a country that wouldn’t steer away from the tradition of human rights,” Hirb had said to Bloomberg.
Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory but Zdenek has urged European democracies to think hard about “jumping into bed with such a risky and unreliable partner.”
At a time when the world is grappling with the greatest threat mankind has ever faced in its history, China is looking to maximize profits out of the misery. Thus the role of leaders like Hirb becomes paramount as open defiance against China and its repugnant policies. Countries like the USA, UK, Japan, France, and India should follow in the footsteps of Hirb and should start calling a spade for a spade. Beijing owes the entire planet repatriations and that is not limited to the financial sphere, it reaches much more beyond that.