In the ongoing saga of tense Czech-Chinese relations, Charles University rector Tomáš Zima resigned amid reports of secret Chinese payments to four faculty members. Last week the university fired the head of the Centre for Security Policy as well as two members of the social sciences department for their part in establishing a private fund with the Chinese Embassy to finance conferences. The centre, meant to nourish academic cultural exchange between the countries, instead has led to more damage than good. In a bold move, in which he stated he, “could not stand by and watch the centre damage the university’s reputation,” Rector Zima submitted his resignation.
The closure of the Czech-Chinese centre could not come at a more stressful time in Czech/Chinese relations. In the last month we’ve seen Prague city council cancel their sister-city program with Beijing, and prior to that a Czech cyber-security watchdog warned against using Chinese equipment in critical infrastructure. With this newest incident, it’s hard to imagine Czech/Chinese relations improving anytime soon.