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Czech-Chinese ties hit new bump as university shuts centre

Czech-Chinese ties hit new bump as university shuts centre
FILE PHOTO: China's President Xi Jinping and Czech President Milos Zeman shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China April 28, 2019. Madoka Ikegami/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo -
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PRAGUE (Reuters) – Prague’s Charles University has closed its Czech-Chinese Centre, rector Tomas Zima said on Wednesday, after local media reports that some of its staff had failed to declare payments from the Chinese embassy intended to support its programmes.

The reports, published in October, prompted the secretary of the centre to resign. Zima made his announcement in a statement posted on the university’s website.

The Czech Republic has recently been trying to attract Chinese money after years of criticising China’s human rights record. However, the push has not generated the expected billions of dollars in Chinese investment.

Last month, Prague city council cancelled a partnership agreement with Beijing.

And a year ago, the Czech cyber-security watchdog warned against using equipment made by China’s Huawei and ZTE in critical infrastructure.

The Czech-Chinese Centre had been intended to promote academic and cultural exchange through some of the Charles University’s faculties.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Michael Kahn and Kevin Liffey)

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