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China's Xi Embraces Hungary's Orban In Budapest

Celebrating ‘New Era’: China’s Xi Embraces Hungary’s Orban In Budapest

Budapest, the enchanting capital of Hungary, plays host to a momentous occasion as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban extends a warm welcome to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This meeting serves as a testament to the burgeoning ties between Beijing and its closest ally within the European Union.

Xi’s journey through Europe, his first since 2019, draws to a close with this grand state visit to Hungary.

Days ago, the Chinese leader commenced his voyage in France, a visit that showcased both cordiality and underscored the simmering tensions between Beijing and the EU in the face of the Ukrainian conflict and global trade disputes.

After a stopover in Serbia, Xi’s arrival in Budapest on a crisp Wednesday evening set the stage for a momentous encounter.

Prior to his arrival, Xi penned an eloquent op-ed in Hungary’s esteemed pro-government publication, Magyar Nemzet. In his words, he extolled the enduring friendship between the two nations, likening it to the mellow and rich essence of Tokaji wine, a nod to Hungary’s renowned vineyards.

Reflecting on their shared history, Xi emphasized their resilience in the face of adversity and their unwavering commitment to defying power politics amidst a volatile global landscape.

“The bond between our nations is at its zenith, embarking on a golden voyage into a new era. China eagerly anticipates forging a closer alliance with our esteemed Hungarian friends,” Xi wrote, exuding confidence in the future of their partnership.

Prime Minister Orban, often at odds with Brussels, has long championed an “Eastern opening” foreign policy since his return to power in 2010.

Even as tensions between the West and Beijing escalated over human rights concerns, the Covid-19 pandemic, trade disputes, and Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Orban remained steadfast in his pursuit of closer economic ties with China, Russia, and other Asian nations.

Xi’s momentous three-day visit to Hungary holds profound significance, marking the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

In recent years, Hungary, with its population of 9.6 million, has become a magnet for significant Chinese investments, particularly in the realm of battery and electric vehicle manufacturing.

The country’s proactive promotion of itself as a global hub for EV production has birthed numerous Chinese enterprises across its landscapes.

Drawing closer together, Hungary and China anticipate signing at least 16 agreements that will foster cooperation in rail and road infrastructure, nuclear energy, and the automotive industry.

Their shared commitment to advancing these sectors paves the way for a future of mutual growth and prosperity.

Xi’s visit unfolds with a splendid dinner featuring the delightful flavors of traditional Hungarian cuisine.

On the following day, the Chinese leader will be greeted with military honors in the heart of Budapest, where he will engage in fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Orban. Later, Xi will address the press, sharing his insights and aspirations for the future.

As political scientist Ja Ian Chong of the University of Singapore astutely observes, Hungary provides a distinct diplomatic advantage for Xi, offering a friendlier environment where he can avoid challenging conversations and uncomfortable questions.

Given Hungary’s close ties to both Moscow and Beijing, Xi’s visit becomes a diplomatic triumph, showcasing warm relations between China and an EU member state that warmly embraces Chinese investments.

In the streets of Budapest, the arrival of the Chinese leader stirs mixed emotions among the Hungarian populace.

While some welcome the financial benefits that accompany such investments, others express concerns about potential debt traps and the prioritization of economic gains over environmental protection.

As the world watches this historic encounter between Hungary and China, it becomes evident that this visit not only strengthens bilateral ties but also sends a powerful message to the rest of Europe.

Xi’s presence in Hungary serves as a reminder of China’s aspirations to be treated with respect and equality throughout the continent.

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