Czechia: Covid-19 puts China at centre of increasingly divisive national debate
China has been providing medical supplies and support to many European states affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese “face-mask” diplomacy launched the new PR offensive in Europe in order to improve its international, as well as domestic image. How the Euro-Chinese bilateral relations have been affected by the Covid-19 crises? And how far is the Czech case comparable and specific within the whole European context?
The European Think-tank Network on China’ s (ETNC) new Special Report, which follows the bottom-up research of European individual states’ relations with China, provides detailed portraits of their bilateral agendas, as well as an overall comprehensive analysis of the whole European level in relations with China during the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemy. Is China a partner, or rather a competitor and rival, asks editor John Seaman in the introduction.
The joint report includes 19 individual country-level analysis provided by European think-tanks, including also the IIR. Rudolf Fürst, a head of the Centre for EU-Asia Relations, was happy to contribute with the Czech Chapter (pp.17-20). The Czech reaction to the epidemic and the Chinese diplomatic efforts were responded with an officially positive reaction, yet also with increasingly polarised narratives of domestic political groups and media.