Czech bilateral relations with China on Belt and Road Initiative administered by private coalition linked to Chinese state-owned CITIC Group
Official bilateral cooperation between the Czech Republic and China on the subject of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is overseen by a private entity with ties to Chinese state-controlled investment firm CITIC. The Czech Ministry of Industry and Commerce established the Chinese-Czech Center for Belt and Road Cooperation in 2017 in order to coordinate with Beijing on BRI policy. The Ministry delegated the oversight of daily operations to the Mixed Czech-China Mutual Cooperation Chamber, a private association run Jaroslav Tvrdík. Tvrdík, former defense minister and personal adviser to Czech President Milos Zeman, is a board member of CITIC Europe. CITIC, operated by the Chinese state, acquired the Czech assets once belonging to investment group CEFC in 2018, where Tvrdík also held a position as board chairman. CEFC was a prominent investor in the Czech Republic, purchasing a wide array of assets in 2015 and 2016 which it then sold to CITIC after encountering financial difficulties. Tvrdík’s Czech-China Cooperation Chamber is an example of PRC friendship associations which are considered “pillars of the global influence apparatus that employ United Front tactics to systematically advance” CCP interests abroad, such as the BRI agenda, according to Czech think tank Sinopsis.