Yet this year, four of our best musical ensembles were in for an
unpleasant surprise: China, which had invited them to visit
the country, abruptly canceled their long-scheduled tours.
The reason for Beijing’s decision to rescind the invitations was
clear. Since I was elected mayor of the Czech capital in 2018, I
have worked to fulfill a promise to voters. I vowed during the
campaign that I would return to our hallowed post-communist
traditions of honoring democracy and human rights. By delivering
on that promise, I and my government have prompted the ire of the
Chinese Communist Party.
We have chosen to adorn our city hall with the Tibetan flag —
which should not bother China at all, considering that its 1951
agreement with the Tibetan government grants the territory a
broad degree of autonomy. Being a doctor, I have also publicly
condemned the forced extraction of organs from members of the
Muslim Uighur minority and other prisoners of the regime.
The Chinese are petty and petulant.
I am not advising against doing any business with China. Nor am I
suggesting that we cut off all diplomatic ties; such an approach
would be both extreme and counterproductive. I would, however,
encourage our friends around the world to think twice and be
cautious before getting into bed with such an unreliable and
potentially risky counterpart.
More importantly, I encourage all of you not to surrender your
values and personal integrity out of fear of blackmail and