For two decades after 1989, the Czech Republic has been one of the most energetic campaigners of human rights internationally and in particular concerning China. Political reshuffling in 2012-2013, however, led to a U-turn in foreign policy on China and suddenly the Czech Republic counted as one of the most pro-China countries regionally. A few years later, little economic results, and another domestic political reshuffling, the Czech approach towards China changed again. President and the government, however, maintain different views of what the Czech position towards China should be. The paper puts these dynamic changes in the Czech positioning vis-à-vis China in a framework using the »role theory« perspective, focusing on the policy-making process and discourse. Official statements of the Czech president, prime minister, and minister of foreign affairs are used as the data. It is shown, that the Czech dominant role changed from a Defender of Values (before 2012) to the one of a Faithful Ally of China (during 2013-2017). The situation since 2018 shows an open spectrum-while the government might be trying to build the position of an Internal Developer, the polarized nature of the Czech discussion of China make it difficult to defend.
Richard Q. Turcsányi is the program director of CEIAS. He studies international relations, economics, and political science at the Masaryk University in Brno. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the Institute of Territorial Studies of the Mendel University in Brno where he teaches courses on current East Asia, geopolitics, and theories of International Relations. He is also a researcher at the Palacky University in Olomouc where he works on the research project Sinophone Borderlands. Between August 2014 and January 2015, he conducted research as a Taiwan Fellow at the National Chengchi University. In 2016 he was doing research at Peking University and Fudan University in China.
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