Tuesday, 26 September 2017

HN: Czech Presidential Office, Chinese CEFC personally merge

ČTK |
20 November 2015

Prague, Nov 19 (CTK) - The Czech Presidential Office seems to be merging with the CEFC company, which is considered a military intelligence platform of China, a superpower definitely not friendly to NATO, Martin Hala writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) yesterday.
The U-turn in the Czech policy to China clearly illustrates how interconnected business-financial and political circles are in the Czech Republic. In figures like Jaroslav Tvrdik, the difference between the two circles disappears and gets a new dimension of nontransparent business and political interests of a foreign power, Hala writes.
Within several years, Tvrdik managed to transform himself from a defence minister of a NATO member country into a political lobbyist of the private financial group PPF and finally into a manager of the CEFC China Energy company. During this notable transformation, Tvrdik also occupied the post of an unofficial aide to Czech President Milos Zeman, Hala writes.
Is Tvrdik a politician, a manager or a lobbyist? Does he represent the interests of the Czech state, a political party, a private company or a foreign power? Hala writes.
The Presidential Office protocol deputy head Miroslav Sklenar is officially joining the CEFC Czech ("European") branch, too, while CEFC chairman Ye Jianming has been Zeman´s aide for some time, Hala writes.
As a result of the personnel merging of both business and political partners, the Presidential Office begins to look like a CEFC subsidiary. CEFC has even more people in Zeman´s office than Russian Lukoil now, Hala says.
CEFC started making acquisitions in the Czech Republic, including the purchase of representative real estate near the Presidential Office. One is only waiting for it to finally buy the Prague Castle, including Zeman´s office, he writes with irony.
The inflow of Chinese finances into the pockets of the Czech politically active privatisation barons will only speed up the current oligarchisation of Czech politics, Hala writes.
The volume of CEFC acquisitions is negligible if compared with investors that have been more established in the Czech Republic, for example from Taiwan or Germany, and that have operated in the country for years without pushing their representatives into the Presidential Office. No Tvrdik keeps flying to Taipei or Berlin and the Czech president does not appear on Taiwanese or German television, Hala writes, hinting at Zeman´s trips to China.
However, CEFC is a different kind of investor. Its purchases must be pompous and accompanied with cultural and political flamboyance. Not even a trivial purchase of a Czech football club or a luxurious villa is made without the participation of Zeman in a limp show of the Chinese TV, Hala writes.
What is going to happen if CEFC decides to make really significant investments, such as to buy the Energeticky a prumyslovy holding (EPH) of Daniel Kretinsky and Patrik Tkac? Like in the case of Lukoil, after all, CEFC´s main interest lies in the energy sector, Hala writes.
Will CEFC merge with the Presidential Office completely afterwards? If Zeman appointed another caretaker cabinet, Ye Jianming could be its head, even if he lacked a security vetting, Hala says with irony, hinting at the case of Zeman´s office head Vratislav Mynar who has been without a vetting for many months.
In any case, the Czechs will feel CEFC´s influence in the economic as well as the political and security levels. According to the latest annual report of the BIS counter-intelligence, China´s administration and its secret services put an emphasis on gaining influence on Czech political and state structures and on gathering of political intelligence in 2014, being actively assisted in this by some Czech citizens, including politicians and state officials, Hala writes.
kva/t/rtj

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