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Czech president visits Nanjing Massacre memorial hall, scolds ambassador for China criticism

By Ma Danning (People's Daily Online)    16:26, May 17, 2017

Czech President Milos Zeman visits the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre on Tue.

Czech President Milos Zeman on May 16 visited the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, becoming the first incumbent foreign president and second foreign head of state to visit the hall, following the Denmark's Queen Margrethe II in 2014.

The hall commemorates the more than 300,000 Chinese lives lost at the hands of Japanese invaders after Japan occupied the city beginning Dec. 13, 1937.

Zeman 's visit to Nanjing followed his attendance of the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which convened on May 14 and 15 in Beijing. He will stay in China for a week for a state visit.

On May 15, Prague Daily Monitor reported that Zeman plans to rebuke the Czech ambassador to Beijing, Bedrich Kopecky, for having signed an appeal for human rights observance in China, citing Czech daily newspaper Lidové noviny (LN).

The report said Kopecky signed a letter penned by 11 diplomats from EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and Switzerland calling for human rights observance in China. It was not a public letter, and the Czech embassy did not inform anyone about it officially. The letter was addressed to China's public security minister, but was later released to the media after Chinese diplomats responded by calling reports on lawyers detained in China "fake news." The diplomats' statements were quickly spread by Western journalists.

Zeman expressed surprise at the fact that he had not known about Kopecky's signature. The letter directly contradicted another letter from four supreme constitutional officials that Zeman initiated last October. In the latter letter, the Czech Republic pledged not to interfere in China's internal affairs, according to the report. LN sources said that Zeman was “outraged” by Kopecky's actions.

"He said right away that [Kopecky] had nothing to do in an important post in Beijing," a source from within Zeman's circle of aides told LN, adding that Kopecky's dismissal is being considered.

On Sept. 3, 2015, Zeman attended a massive military parade in Beijing that marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Meeting Zeman in the Great Hall of the People on that occasion, Xi said his appearance at the parade "showed a spirit of respecting historical facts," Xinhua reported. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Ma Danning, Bianji)

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