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Zeman begins sixth visit to China as president

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, sets off on a working visit to China on Wednesday. He is due to hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as leading representatives of Huawei, Bank of China and CITIC. The Czech authorities have identified Huawei products as a security threat but Mr. Zeman says there is no proof of that. His delegation includes Czech stars Jaromír Jágr and Pavel Nedvěd, who should cement closer sporting ties with China, and the financier Pavel Tykač.

The Czech head of state has put great store in improving ties with the world’s most populous state and this is his sixth visit to the country since taking office.

Leaders: Taxing compensation could cause churches’ demise

The taxation of financial compensation paid to churches in lieu of properties not returned in restitution could have dire consequences for faith groups, religious leaders have said. In a statement on Wednesday, the chairs of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Federation of Jewish Communities said the move could cause churches serious financial problems or even result in their demise.

The church leaders said the bill mandating such taxation was immoral and unconstitutional.

MPs on Tuesday overrode a Senate veto on the legislation. A tax on compensation was a condition of the Communists for supporting a minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats.

Le Pen and Wilders due to speak in central Prague on Thursday

A heightened police presence is planned for central Prague on Thursday, with anti-European Union politicians due to speak at a gathering held by the Czech party Freedom and Direct Democracy. France’s Marie Le Pen and Geert Wilders from the Netherlands will speak at a protest on Wenceslas Square against what organisers call the dictate of the EU. Italy’s Matteo Salvini will send a video greeting.

Opponents of the anti-EU meeting are due to hold counter-protests nearby. One has been dubbed the Noise Olympics and attendees plan to use various objects to cause a commotion.

Bill aimed at reducing mobile data costs clears first hurdle in lower house

A government bill on electronic communications aimed at reducing the cost of mobile data in the Czech Republic has been approved by the lower house in a first reading. Among other things the legislation would allow customers to give only two days’ notice if they wish to end a contract with an operator.

The minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, said the amendment should boost competition on the Czech market.

The issue of mobile data prices made the headlines after a gaff from the outgoing minister of industry and trade, Marta Nováková. She implied Czech consumers were responsible for the relative high cost of data in this country as they didn’t use the service enough.

Body of miner who died in December removed in Karviná

Rescue workers have removed the body of a miner who died in an explosion at a mine in Karviná in the Moravian-Silesian Region in December. The remains of four others are expected to be exhumed by the end of the month, a spokesperson for the district state prosecutor’s office said.

Thirteen miners were killed when a methane explosion took place 800 metres below the ground at the ČSM-Sever mine. Most of the victims were Polish.

Czech car production down 3.8 pct in Q1, top exporter Škoda Auto sites flagging Chinese sales

Car production in the Czech Republic fell by 3.8 percent year-on-year to 363,052 vehicles in the first quarter of 2019, the Automotive Industry Association said on Wednesday.

The drop was led by Škoda Auto, the Czech Republic’s largest exporter, whose production fell by 3 percent in annual terms. The carmaker said earlier that its sales in January-March fell mainly due to lower demand on the Chinese market.

Two other smaller carmakers noted a rise in output. TPCA, a joint venture of Toyota, Peugeot and Citroën, increased production by almost 5 percent to 58,772 units in Q1, while Hyundai’s production fell by 12 percent to 73,000 cars.

Weather forecast

It should be mainly sunny in the Czech Republic on Thursday, with temperatures of up to 25 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs are expected to then fall to the mid-teens Celsius at the weekend.