The capital of the Czech Republic will sign a sister city agreement with Taipei next month after previously breaking off its relationship with Beijing, its mayor Zdenek Hrib has said.

Prague City Hall on Monday approved a document that laid out plans for economic, business, scientific and cultural cooperation, according to Czech news outlet CTK. Hrib said the agreement will be signed when he receives Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je for a visit in January.

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Zdenek Hrib (left) during a visit to Taiwan in March 2019. Photo: Facebook via Zdenek Hrib.

In October, Prague cancelled its sister city relationship with Beijing after the Chinese side refused to budge on a clause that required the Czechs to support the “One China” policy. Hrib – who has defied Beijing on topics such as Taiwan and Tibet – said the “One China” idea had no place in a sister cities agreement, adding that it was “political” and “one-sided” in nature.

The latest development marks a worsening relationship between Prague and Beijing, a trend that began after Hrib took office in November 2018. Prague’s original deal with Beijing was among the agreements signed after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Czech Republic in March 2016, which was negotiated with Hrib’s more China-friendly predecessors.

Hrib has been trying to strike a deal with Taiwan since March when he led a delegation to the self-ruled island. In response, Beijing cancelled four touring performances by Czech organisations set to appear in mainland China.

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Zdenek Hrib meeting with Chinese dissident Liu Xia. Photo: Twitter via Zdenek Hrib.

The new Prague-Taipei agreement – whose terms state that it was a “non-political text” – is expected to be vetted Prague assembly members next Thursday.

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Hrib said that he hopes that future students from Prague could study Chinese in Taipei, as well as learn from Taipei’s expertise in healthcare innovation and rail transport.

He also said he hoped the Prague Zoo could receive a pangolin as a gift, which would be kept in an enclosure previously meant for a panda.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.