Budapest: Xi and Orban agree on “strategic partnership”

Xi and Orban agree on “strategic partnership”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (r) welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport. photo

© Vivien Cher Benko/Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office/AP/dpa

At the end of his trip to Europe, Xi Jinping stayed in a country whose leadership showered him with roses. Prime Minister Orban sees Chinese technology transfer as a motor for future development.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was on the last stop of his European trip on Thursday Budapest held talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. A “comprehensive strategic partnership” has been agreed between the two countries, both politicians said in a joint statement broadcast by Hungarian state television.

Orban said that both countries have always been close friends. Chinese companies would secure tens of thousands of jobs in Hungary today. The country wants to take advantage of the opportunities that would arise from high-quality Chinese investments in the field of e-mobility and from Chinese technology transfer.

Xi spoke out in favor of further expanding relations. “We both believe that the traditional friendship between our countries stands on solid foundations,” he said. The Chinese President also visited Budapest to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Hungary and China.

No concrete information

On the sidelines of the visit, the delegations signed numerous intergovernmental agreements. Hungarian state television, which was the only one allowed to attend the ceremony on the Hungarian side, did not provide any specific information. The outlines of the agreed “comprehensive strategic partnership” also remained rather vague. Orban simply mentioned that both countries also want to work together in the nuclear industry in the future. “That hasn’t happened before,” he said. However, he did not elaborate further.

Hungary was the last stop on Xi Jinping’s European trip, which previously took him to France and Serbia. He wanted to leave Budapest on Friday. Hungary is the only EU country to take part in China’s controversial New Silk Road infrastructure and investment initiative. The Hungarian government is considered China-friendly – with friendly relations with Beijing, Orban wants to create a counterweight to the situation in the EU, where he is often isolated.

China is building a 350-kilometer-long railway connection between Budapest and Belgrade, which will be financed with Chinese loans. In Hungary it is building large factories to produce electric vehicles and associated batteries. In Debrecen, eastern Hungary, a battery factory under construction by the Chinese manufacturer CATL is expected to employ 9,000 people in the future. However, the Giga project sparked protests from environmentalists and led to legal disputes.


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