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President Zeman meets with Chinese president to discuss trade and investment

President Miloš Zeman, who on Sunday winds up a four day official visit to China, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks dominated by trade and investment.

The Czech head of state has been pushing to increase the level of Chinese investments in the Czech Republic which failed to meet expectations after the CEFC company, with which agreements were signed, became embroiled in scandal.

President Zeman also met with the head of state firm, CITIC, which took over CEFC’s Czech assets and said he was happy with the outcome of negotiations.

One of the highlights of the president’s sixth working visit to China was his address at the Belt and Road Forum, at which he came out strongly in defence of the company Huawei, saying it was victim of unfair competition and expressing the hope that it would be involved in building a 5G network in the Czech Republic.

Social Democrats want their minister to explain controversial sackings

Social Democratic Party deputy chair Roman Onderka has said Culture Minister Antonin Staněk would be asked to explain to the party leadership his reasons for sacking the head of the Czech National Gallery Jiří Fajt and the head of the Olomouc Museum of Arts Michal Soukup.

Speaking in a debate on Czech Television, Onderka said that Staněk had not informed the party about this decision in advance and unless he produced a satisfactory explanation Onderka would be in favour of the minister’s dismissal.

The sacking of the head of the Prague Gallery and Olomouc Museum of Arts has raised a storm of controversy with leading Czech artists and cultural institutions sending a protest petition to the prime minister. The heads of foreign galleries have also expressed their support for the head of the Czech National Gallery.

EU commissioner tells Czechs to consider benefits of EU membership and be more active

The 15th anniversary of the country’s membership in the EU on May 1st, is a good time to take stock of what the country has gained through membership, what it expects from it in the future and how it can contribute to the alliance, EU Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová said in an interview for the ctk news agency.

Jourová, who is Czech, said she had the impression that once Czechs had gained membership in the EU they had become less active. She said the country should be more involved, more aware of the benefits of membership and better prepared to defend its interests.

Living standard of Czechs growing

The living standard of Czechs has grown significantly since the country joined the EU fifteen years ago, the results of a Eurostat survey indicate.

When the Czech Republic entered the EU in 2004, the living standard of Czechs was at 69 percent of the EU average, in 2017 it reached 83 percent, according to Eurostat data.

The data also show that consumer prices in the Czech Republic are closer to the EU average than wages.

Malta, Estonia and Lithuania are reported to have made similar progress.

Road maintenance authorities testing more bridges

The road maintenance authorities continue in load testing potentially risky bridges on the country’s highways and first class roads, after a bridge in Dubí, north Bohemia was found to be a public hazard and was torn down.

Currently agreements have been signed on testing 126 bridges with the results due to be made public in November. Many of the country’s bridges are undergoing minor or significant reconstruction.

Snake scare on train

A runaway snake caused a scare on the morning train from České Budějovice to Brno on Sunday. One of the passengers sighted it wound around the window curtain and alarmed the conductor.

Police and pest control arrived to capture the reptile, to find it was a species of the milk snake. The snake was transported to the Hluboká nad Vltavou zoo. Police are searching for its owner.

Weather forecast

Monday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain and day temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius.