Prague mayor sending Philharmonic to Taiwan instead of China after Xi snub

Prague mayor looking to send Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to Taipei instead of China after China cancels shows

Hrib (left), Tsai (right).

Hrib (left), Tsai (right). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In response to news that China has canceled a China tour of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in retaliation for refusing to exclude a Taiwanese diplomat, the Czech city's mayor suggests that the orchestra play in Taipei instead.

Since becoming Mayor of Prague, Zdenek Hrib has been a thorn in the side of the authoritarian communist regime in China as he openly opposes the "one China" clause in the sister city agreement signed by Prague and Beijing, welcomes dissidents from Tibet, and has met with Taiwanese leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen last month.

After refusing to exclude a Taiwanese diplomat from a meeting held by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Industry in March, China's Ministry of Culture announced that it will be canceling several scheduled trips to China by Czech cultural organizations, including the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, reported the Prague Daily Monitor. The orchestra had originally been scheduled to perform in Chinese cities in September and October of this year.

In response, Hrib, who first came to Taiwan as an exchange student, praised the Philharmonic for standing up to pressure from China and not renouncing their city, reported Blesk. He said that the shows could be scheduled with partner cities other countries, including Taipei.

He said that because the Philharmonic is well known throughout Southeast Asia and he has recently visited Taiwan, he will look into the possibility of scheduling the orchestra in Taipei, according to the report. Hrib criticized China for using political power to suppress cultural exchanges.

Tweet supporting Hrib's move by Jakub Janda, Executive Director of the Prague-based European Values thinktank and Program Head of KremlinWatch.