《TAIPEI TIMES》Ko inks sister-city deal after Prague renounces Beijing
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, center left, and Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib, center right, shake hands in Prague’s Old Town Square on Monday. Photo: AP
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter, with CNA
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲） and Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib on Monday in the Czech capital signed a sister-city agreement formalizing ties between the two cities, after Prague canceled a similar agreement with Beijing to protest against China’s insistence on adherence to its “one China” principle in October last year.
Ko and Hrib on Monday afternoon met at Prague’s Old Town Hall to sign the agreement, which aims to foster closer cooperation in culture, technology, tourism, healthcare and other areas.
Memorandums of understanding between the two cities’ zoos and tourism bureaus were also signed at the ceremony, including an agreement that pangolins from Taipei Zoo are to be gifted to Prague Zoological Garden, which would make it the second zoo in Europe to have pangolins from Taiwan.
Ko said that he has met with Hrib four times since they first met at a smart city summit in Taipei in March last year.
Hrib has expressed his full support for Taiwan and the residents of Taipei, and Taiwanese can all feel his passion and friendliness toward the nation, Ko said, adding that Hrib would always be welcome to visit Taiwan.
“In spite of the indisputable geographical distance, we are bound by shared democratic values and respect for fundamental human rights and cultural freedoms, so we can learn from and inspire each other,” Hrib said.
Prague and Taipei becoming sister cities would be greatly beneficial to both cities, he added.
Hrib, who spent his medical internship in Taiwan, was elected mayor in November 2018 and called for the “one China” principle, which insists that Taiwan is part of China, be eliminated from the sister-city agreement between Prague and Beijing signed in 2016.
The Prague City Council in October last year voted to scrap the partnership agreement with Beijing after it failed to remove the article.
Hrib on Sunday condemned China, calling it an “unreliable partner” in an interview with a German newspaper.
In a Washington Post article published on Dec. 23, he called China “an unreliable business partner” that would breach deals already made with other countries to further its political agenda.
“Prague has its own choice to become a sister city with cities of the world, and I think Beijing should also allow Prague the right to choose,” Ko said on Monday.
After the ceremony, the two mayors visited the Prague Astronomical Clock and participated in a tree-planting ceremony before attending a banquet in the evening.
Unhappy over the signing of the sister-city agreement between Taipei and Prague, Shanghai yesterday ended all official relations with the Czech capital.
The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Foreign Affairs Office said in a notice that it “strongly condemns and solemnly protests” Prague’s decision.
Additional reporting by AP
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, left, and Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib display a sister-city agreement at the Czech capital’s Old Town Hall on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Taipei City Government