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Xi Jinping says China-Hungary relations an ‘all-weather’ strategic partnership

China and Hungary will embark on a “golden voyage” in bilateral relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping said after meeting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the third and final stop of his first European tour in five years

By: EBR - Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Hungary under right-leaning Orban has become an important trade and investment partner for China, in contrast with some other EU nations that are considering becoming less dependent on the world’s second-largest economy.
Hungary under right-leaning Orban has become an important trade and investment partner for China, in contrast with some other EU nations that are considering becoming less dependent on the world’s second-largest economy.

China and Hungary will embark on a “golden voyage” in bilateral relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping said after meeting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the third and final stop of his first European tour in five years.

Hungary under right-leaning Orban has become an important trade and investment partner for China, in contrast with some other EU nations that are considering becoming less dependent on the world’s second-largest economy.

Xi arrived in Budapest late on Wednesday (8 May) after visiting France and Serbia. In Paris, President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen pressed him to ensure more balanced trade with Europe and use his influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

After their meeting, both Xi and Orban said that their two countries elevated ties to an “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership.”

“We are willing to take this as a new starting point to push bilateral relations and pragmatic cooperation into a golden channel and move towards a higher level,” Xi said.

This, among others, means that the two countries expand their cooperation to the nuclear industry, Orban said.

The two countries will also move forward in the construction of key projects including the reconstruction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway project, the Chinese president said.

The $2.1 billion project, most of which is financed by a loan from China, is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious plan launched by Xi a decade ago in the hope of building global infrastructure and energy networks connecting Asia with Africa and Europe.

Hungary and China signed 18 agreements after the meeting of their leaders, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a video on his Facebook page.

The two countries will start preparing the construction of a railway line around Budapest that will help transport goods produced by Chinese factories in Eastern Hungary to markets in Western Europe, Szijjarto said.

Hungary and China will also start preparing a high-speed railway connecting the centre of Budapest and its airport, the ministers said.

The relationship between China and Hungary, which mark their 75th year of diplomatic relations, goes beyond trade and investment as China offered cooperation on public security and law enforcement issues to Hungary in February.

Orban started bringing his country closer to Beijing after he came to power in 2010. Warm political relations turned into investments about a decade later when battery and electric vehicle makers started to bring production to Hungary.

One of the biggest investors, CATL, is building a €7.3 billion battery plant in Debrecen while Chinese EV maker BYD announced late last year that it was building its first European plant in southern Szeged.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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