In a stark contrast with political attitudes of just a few years ago, the city of Prague will once again show its symbolic support for an independent Tibet next month.
From Friday, March 8, until Sunday the 11th, Prague’s City Hall at Škoda Palace will fly a Tibetan flag as part of the “Raise a Flag for Tibet” campaign that began in Germany in 1996 and has since spread internationally.
In the Czech Republic, some 700 local councils will fly a Tibetan flag next month in memory of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising on March 10, which will marks its 60th anniversary this year.
While Prague flew a Tibetan flag at City Hall during the campaign for ten years in the early 2000s, the practice was stopped in 2014 under the city government of then-Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová.
Two years later, Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit Prague amidst protests.
While Czech leaders have maintained good political relations with China since then – Czech President Milos Zeman serenaded Jingping on piano last year – Prague’s new government, including Mayor Zdeněk Hřib from the Pirate Party, has different ideas.
“Previous city leadership favored a good political relationship with the People’s Republic of China and ignored the reality of human rights violations and freedoms over the desire for the economic advantages [promised by] a good relationship,” stated Hřib at a press conference on Thursday.
“The visions of the previous leadership have not yet been fulfilled, not even the acquisition of a panda for Prague Zoo.”
While Prague Zoo, one of the top-rated zoos in the world, has gone as far as to build a new pavilion for pandas after the increased relationship between the Czech Republic and China, Zoo head Miroslav Bobek conceded last year that he didn’t expect the pandas to arrive any time soon.
Mayor Hřib has also been given the authority to negotiate with the Mayor of Beijing on the controversial Prague-Beijing partnership contract, which includes a recognition of the One China policy that current Prague officials do not believe belongs in the document.
Lobsang Sangay, head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, will also visit Prague next month during the One World Film Festival.