Matej Šimalčík comments on Czech and Slovak media and their attitude towards China.
Since the announcement of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, China has focussed more and more on Central and Eastern Europe, and what started as China’s ‘charm offensive’ has developed increasingly sharp spikes in regional media outlets.
Local media outlets play the important role of intermediary in communications between China and the region. There are stark differences in the perceptions of China among individual countries in the region — especially between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which both play a transit role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Unlike in Slovakia, there have been several Chinese investments in the Czech Republic that are unrelated to Belt and Road transit networks. These range from investments in media to infrastructure to the purchase of the Slavia Prague soccer team. Chinese investment in the Czech Republic increased after the latter’s dramatic and pragmatic shift of foreign policy towards China in 2013. In early 2017, Slovakia similarly moved towards a more active foreign and economic policy regarding China.
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