The policy paper represents the first and so far only study of the Czech and Hungarian parliamentary discourses on China of this complexity, depth and historical scale, covering period from 1993 (1990 respectively) till the end of 2018.
The policy paper systematically mapped both Parliaments’ plenary sessions on China which enabled a determination of political parties’ views and an identification of key players setting the discourse, and served to dig out China-related themes and topics which occur and would otherwise have gone unnoticed by general public.
The policy paper finds out that in both countries China has gone from being a mere point of reference in a wider political debate to a topic in its own right. The Czech debate on China has gone from criticism to a honeymoon period and back to a rather critical standpoint. However, while positive notions of Beijing in the Czech Lower House fluctuate wildly, negative views have been held in a more constant manner. Despite repeated efforts to promote more friendly Czech-China relations, there has always been an irrepressible opposition to this tendency. The Hungarian political discourse on China made a U-turn in 2010 and stayed positive ever since.
Based on the project’s findings, the paper comes up with a set of recommendations for the two analyzed countries. In case of the Czech Republic, its governments are advised against viewing China purely through an ideological lens, or as a tool of domestic policy used for criticism of political opponents. The conceptual deadlock, in which promoters of intense economic links with China get accused of morally corrupt stances, while their opponents are told to hush their critique lest they endanger Czech Republic’s economic chances, is unhelpful. Human rights and economic diplomacy should not be seen as mutually exclusive categories. Hungary, meanwhile, is advised to pay more attention to recent China-related issues in the region to avoid potentially damaging consequences for the country.
The policy paper was written as part of the ChinfluenCE project.
ChinfluenCE is an international project mapping Chinese political and economic influence in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Through media content analysis it studies China’s image and its perception in Central Europe. It identifies key agenda setters who shape the discourse, and subjects them to social network analysis in order to determine their views of China, clarify their motivations and scrutinize links among them. The project contains a strong comparative element as it focuses on China’s strategy across four different countries.
Visit the ChinfluenCE webpage at www.chinfluence.eu