Whether you know the concept or have never heard of it, there is a chance that your hometown will have a partnership agreement with another, or probably several. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (left) poses with Prague Mayor Zdenek Hib (right) during the signing ceremony of his sister city agreement on January 13, 2020. It is appropriate for our capitals, Washington, DC and Brasilia, to enter into a long-term partnership to connect our citizens, governments and business, cultural and academic communities. I am convinced that this cooperation project will be of great benefit to the diverse and open citizens of the world of the two capitals, who serve as beacons of culture and diplomacy for their respective nations. The context in which the agreement with Taipei was concluded was probably a much more influential factor in this conclusion. The attempt at renegotiation and the subsequent abrogation of the agreement between Prague and Beijing had already fostered a highly politicized environment of mutual distrust. This was compounded by the fact that the representatives of Prague and Czech society as such took advantage of the end of the agreement with Beijing to strengthen their own identity, based on the legacy of V. Havel, the rejection of communism and respect for human rights. In this context, any action that might call into question China`s version of reality would be misinterpreted in China as a threat to its fundamental interests, thus challenging the nationalist myths that underpin the CCP`s domestic political legitimacy. The Delhi government on Friday signed a two-city agreement with the Moscow administration for cooperation in several sectors, including education, tourism, transport and the environment.
After the new Prague City Council went to Beijing to remove this clause (allegedly several times, when it was supposedly the government of Krneov and not Beijing that proposed the clause) and did not get satisfactory answers, he insisted that the whole relationship be rejected. The reason given by the City Council was that the inclusion of the “One China” clause made the agreement political, which is not common to the partner city agreements. Although the decision to repeal the agreement was adopted by the city council on 7 October 2019, Prague was unable to implement it, as Beijing itself terminated the agreement on 9 October. Prague lost the last hope of getting a panda for the Prague Zoo – one of the most symbolic results of the consequences of the two cities. The Istanbul-Rotterdam partnership is another example. The two cities had a twin city relationship from 2005 to 2017, when it ended with the Turkish side. The denunciation was made following a ban on Turkish ministers organising diaspora demonstrations in Rotterdam ahead of a controversial Turkish referendum on constitutional changes. Turkish President Erdogan was actively involved in the decision, as he reportedly asked his prime minister to ask the mayor of Istanbul to end relations with Rotterdam. If we compare the relationship between Shanghai and Prague with the cases of Borlenge-Wuhan, San Francisco-Osaka or Rotterdam-Istanbul, we can see that everyone has something in common: the relations of partner cities, supposedly apolitical, politicized. It is not only this, but the questions that led to the end of these partner city agreements, which have been very important to the nationalist myths advocated by the governments of the respective countries – whether it is the Japanese answer to the question of “comfort women”, the way in which the Turkish government tries to bring the diaspora closer to its own objectives , or China`s response to criticism of its human rights record.