Relations Between Czech Political and Business Elites With Links to China

The MapInfluenCE project has published a new interactive map depicting the intricate relationships between key Czech politicians and businessmen with links to China or China policy.

The interactive map is an updated version of the original analysis, published in 2018 together with a study of agenda-setting on China in Czech (and other Central European countries’) discourse. Considering the dynamic situation over the past few years and the dawning of a new political reality after the October 2021 elections, an update to the interactive map to reflect the latest information is of significant value.

The latest map is based solely on information from publicly available sources, including business registers and media reports. It displays connections based upon party membership, business activities past and present, as well as personal links, and more.

Apart from depicting individuals with links to China, the diagram includes selected personalities connected via key nodes (e.g. advisors to key politicians or domestic actors linked to business with links to China are included). The map does not seek to assess individual politicians or institutions and their behavior towards China, but rather serves as a visual aid in understanding connections between important actors, in politics and business, on China issues. The authors stress that the existence of a personal or professional connection does not directly imply ongoing cooperation between the actors or undue influence.

The October 2021 elections have changed the balance of power in the Czech Chamber of Deputies. ČSSD (Social Democrats), one of the key nodes according to the map, did not pass the electoral threshold and lost all of its mandates in the legislative body. Likewise, KSČM (Communist Party) is also departing the Chamber of Deputies for the first time in modern Czech history. Based upon the electoral outcome, the center-right coalition SPOLU and the center-left coalition of Pirates and Mayors are set to form the new government. On China, the new government appears set to assume a critical stance, including bolstering cooperation with Taiwan, strengthening a focus on human rights in foreign policy or excluding China from strategic industries. Still, actual policy implementation remains to be seen.

How to use the interactive map: We recommend opening the map in a separate window. You can use the search function in the upper right corner. After clicking on an actor, his or her bio and links to other actors will appear on the left. You can also explore a particular connection by clicking on the “bullseye” focus function on the right. If the connections are not visible, you can use the arrows below and above the bullseye. 

For comments and suggestions on the map you can contact MapInfluenCE Data Analyst Veronika Blablová at veronika.blablova@amo.cz.

Last update: October 19, 2021

OPEN THE MAP IN A NEW WINDOW

We can easily trace from the map that the key nodes from which ties spread represent a few (political) entrepreneurs and a number of institutions. The Social Democrats (ČSSD) deserve special attention within this network, as they have become sort of a “breeding center” for the politicians and entrepreneurs active in promoting China-friendly policies since the term of former Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (2014-2017).

This group includes President Miloš Zeman (Chairman of ČSSD between 1993 and 2001) who has been the key supporter of closer relations with China and has visited the country five times during his tenure as president. Another example is Jan Kohout, a career diplomat turned Social Democratic politici