Hungary Pins High Hopes on Cooperation with China

  • 17 Oct 2023 11:34 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Hungary Pins High Hopes on Cooperation with China
Hungary continues to be a good friend of China in central Europe with Budapest pinning high hopes on cooperation, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after his talks with Li Qiang, his Chinese counterpart, in Beijing.

Orbán cited “a deeper, cultural root” of the “political friendship” between the two countries, noting that Hungary had been the first country in the former Soviet bloc to recognise China and the only country in central Europe that had consistently supported the One China principle.

Orbán said that he, as the leader of the Hungarian opposition at the time, had held his first meeting with Xi Jinping in 2009 when Xi was China’s vice president.

Talks with Xi, now China’s president, will be held on Tuesday, said Orbán, adding that it is going to be their seventh meeting, which “illustrates well the friendship between the two peoples”. “I will do my outmost to pursue a foreign policy towards China that follows duly in the footsteps of our predecessors.”

After the talks, intergovernmental agreements were signed on bilateral projects implemented in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, on cooperation in the areas of education, industry and investment, and on technological development, digital economy and climate protection. Orbán will participate in the third Belt and Road Forum on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Orbán Holds Talks With China Construction Bank Chairman

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with China Construction Bank (CCB) chairman Tian Guoli in Beijing on Monday, the PM’s press chief said.

Citing a press release from the parties, Bertalan Havasi said Tian received Orbán’s delegation and accompanied the Hungarian officials to inspect the Dao Xiang Hu technological innovation retreat centre.

Tian welcomed the prime minister and his delegation, and they reviewed the friendly talks and cooperation between China and Hungary in recent years. The CCB chairman also spoke highly of Hungary’s Eastern Opening policy and the chievements of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Tian thanked the Hungarian government for its guidance for the CCB branch opened in Hungary earlier this year. He said the bank would consider the opening of its Hungarian branch a “new starting point” for providing better financial services to both countries’ clients and giving new momentum to their bilateral partnership.

He said the two new Hungarian Nobel laureate scientists demonstrated Hungarians’ talent for science and innovation to the world. CCB has made significant progress in the area of fintech solutions in recent years, and has set up a fintech laboratory in Hungary with a view to exploring future directions in the field together with Hungary, using Chinese market capacity and funds as well as the technological know-how of the two countries, Tian added.

He expressed hope that this cooperation would yield “further success stories” for the partnership between China and Hungary.

Orbán said Hungary in the current geopolitical situation remained committed to its Eastern Opening policy as well as to strengthening its dialogue and cooperation with China. He thanked CCB for the support it has provided to Hungary in recent years.

Orbán congratulated the bank on its opening of a branch in Hungary, calling it “a wise decision”.

By bolstering their ties, Hungary and China have taken their economic and trade cooperation to the next level in recent years, he said, adding that Hungary welcomed CCB’s local branch as a partner in electric vehicle production, new energy projects and numerous other areas.

Szijjártó: Hungary, Europe Have Vested Interest in Cooperation with China

High-level cooperation with China is key to the competitiveness of Europe and Hungary, and severing those ties would have tragic consequences, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Monday, after talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing.

The main topic of the talks with Wang Yi was the war in Ukraine, and ways to end it, Szijjártó said. He thanked China for its “extremely active role in the peace effort”.

China’s peace plan is the closest to Hungary’s concept on the matter, as “it admits that the conflict cannot be solved on the battlefield,” he said. Like Hungary, the Chinese peace plan posits that the longer the war rages, the worse the chances for peace, he said.

While Europe is gripped by a “war psychosis”, the majority of the world wants peace in Ukraine, he said. Szijjártó also touched on the “extremely worrisome” situation in Israel, and warned that unless an escalation can be avoided, the conflict could lead to “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in human history”.

Szijjártó and Wang also discussed the two countries’ economic ties. Hungary’s economy would struggle to “remain on a growth path” without Chinese investments, Szijjártó said. Hungary is expected to double last year’s investment record of 6.5 billion euros, with much of those investments coming from Chinese companies, he said.

Hungary, a meeting point of western and eastern investments, has manufacturing sites of the three largest German carmakers, and soon five of the 10 largest battery makers in the world, he said. Those investments ensure economic growth and prevent mass job losses, he added.

The revamping of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line is the flagship of Hungarian-Chinese cooperation, and will put Hungary in a leading position in moving goods from Greek ports to Europe, he said. The upgrade will be ready by 2025, he added.
Szijjártó also warned against severing the economic ties between Europe and China.

Those with Russia “were severed one by one in the past 18 months, despite the fact that they were the foundation of economic growth,” he said. The European economy would not be competitive without cooperation with China, and severing those ties would be “tragic and contrary to Hungarian interests”, he said.

“Hungary will reject and obstruct all unreasonable proposals that would limit or sever Chinese-European cooperation; we will not support tariffs or other obstructions on the Chinese electric car industry, and we will resist the pressure from western Europe to cut back economic cooperation with China. “Any other approach would mean that we could create fewer jobs and couldn’t guarantee this degree of economic growth,” he said.

Econ Development Minister Signs Cooperation Pacts in China

Economic Development Minister Márton Nagy signed four cooperation agreements in China on Monday, after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, his ministry said in a statement.

Nagy signed agreements on strengthening cooperation in the areas of the digital economy, cooperation and exchanges in economic development policy, cooperation on technological development and cooperation on strengthening digital economic development, the ministry said.

It noted that China is Hungary’s ninth biggest trading partner and the world’s second biggest economy. China’s economy has undergone extraordinary development over the past decades, turning the country into a global technological superpower, he said.

Hungary aims to be a part of the global economy’s technological advancement, which requires deepening economic ties between the two countries, with a special focus on digitalisation and the development of the Digital Silk Road, Nagy said.

The agreements signed on Monday are aimed at bolstering cooperation in the areas of the digital economy, new energy carriers and CO2 reduction, 5G and 6G networks, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, SMEs, the green economy and artificial intelligence, among others, he added.

The Hungarian economy now rests on more and more pillars, as since 2010 it has been transformed from a “periphery region” into a significant meeting point for Western and Eastern capital in high-tech sectors like electric vehicle manufacturing, Nagy said.

This boosts investment and the export-based economy, contributing to growth and the protection of jobs and families, the ministry cited Nagy as saying.

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