Jan Zahradil is a Czech politician who has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 2014. He is a member of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and serves on the International Trade Committee, the Delegation for relations with China, and the Delegation to the Euro-China Parliamentary Partnership Committee.
Zahradil is a vocal critic of the European Union’s stance on China, and has called for the EU to take a more cooperative approach to China. He has been a strong supporter of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and has abstained from votes on resolutions critical of China’s human rights record.
In 2021, Zahradil was investigated by the European Parliament for failing to properly disclose financial support from the Chinese Mission to the EU. The investigation concluded that Zahradil had not broken any rules, but it did raise questions about his ties to China. In 2018, he collaborated on a report advocating for the European Union to adopt a more cooperative approach towards China.
The following year, Zahradil organized a trip to China for a delegation of MEPs from the EPP Group, which was financed by the Chinese government. Criticism arose as Zahradil failed to disclose this funding to the European Parliament. In 2020, Zahradil refrained from voting on a resolution denouncing China’s human rights record in Xinjiang. Despite the resolution passing with a significant majority, Zahradil’s abstention raised eyebrows and was interpreted as a signal of his support for China.
The year 2021 saw Zahradil appointed as the chairman of the Group of Friendship between the EU and China. This group consists of MEPs who maintain a favorable stance towards China, and his appointment was seen as an indication of his rising influence in the EU-China relationship.
Zahradil’s pro-China stance has been criticized by some MEPs, who have accused him of being too close to the Chinese government. However, Zahradil has defended his position, arguing that it is important for the EU to engage with China in order to promote trade and cooperation. Zahradil has also said that he believes that China is a “friend” of the EU, and that the two sides should work together to address common challenges.
Zahradil’s pro-China stance is likely to continue to be a source of controversy in the European Parliament. However, he is a significant figure in the EU-China relationship, and his views will continue to be influential.