Prague, Dec 10 (CTK) – The Home Credit loan company, owned by the richest Czech Petr Kellner, hired the C&B Reputation Management PR agency in order to improve the image of the Chinese Communist regime in the eyes of the Czech public, the Aktualne.cz server reported today.
Aktualne.cz said that the agency created a network of experts, journalists and politicians, some of which were not aware that they are a part of such a project.
Home Credit communications director Milan Tomanek rejected the allegations.
“Home Credit is convinced this is a case of a targeted, wide and long-term campaign that does not lack a criminal aspect. The published materials are evidently of a confidential nature and may have been manipulated. That is why Home Credit will further proceed and communicate in the matter only through legal means,” Tomanek told CTK.
For example, it secretly coordinated the creation of the Sinoskop Institute of Modern China Studies, headed by Chinese language expert and interpreter for presidents Vit Vojta.
Vojta claims he wants Sinoskop to provide a counter-position to the more critical Sinopsis project, which is organised mainly by experts from the Charles University’s Faculty of Arts and is focused on the negatives of the Chinese communist regime.
Tomanek told CTK that Home Credit stands behind the Sinoskop project.
“We think it offers a more objective view of China than the competing Sinopsis project, which claims to be the single moral arbiter and expositor of the developments in China,” he said.
The agency was also paid for leading attacks and preparing reports on the critics of the Chinese regime, the server said.
The agency’s director, Tomas Sazima, stated that the agency’s goal is not to manipulate public opinion.
“The goal is to moderate a debate on China by bringing relevant elements into it. As a result, the debate should balance itself out and move away from the extreme positions held in our society. Because what is happening to the reputation of China here is filth,” Sazima said.
However, the Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) sees the spread of Chinese influence in the country as one of the mot serious threats to the Czech Republic.
“Home Credit paid a PR agency for almost 2,000 work hours intended to aid those who protect the Chinese regime in Czech media and attack the nondemocratic country’s critics,” the server wrote.
The server also wrote that good relations with China are crucial for the success of Kellner’s business, as Home Credit was able to gain a state-wide license in 2014 to provide non-banking loans to the Chinese citizens.
Lately, Home Credit was criticised by a part of the Czech academic community for signing a cooperation contract with the Charles University in Prague, according to which the company was to give 500,000 crowns to the university annually for three years.
The documentation also contained a clause stating that the parties involved vow not to damage each other’s good name, practically preventing the university from criticising Home Credit.
The criticism of the contract made Home Credit withdraw from it, saying it does not want to be dragged into irrational debates.