Hungary’s Orbán Signs Big Deals with Xi Jinping, Thanks China for Saving Lives in Pandemic

Orban and Jinping
Vivien Cher Benko/Hungarian Prime Minister's Office/MTI via AP

China and Hungary signed 18 cooperation agreements on Thursday following an in-person meeting in Budapest between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and visiting genocidal dictator Xi Jinping, who is on the last leg of a week-long trip to Europe.

The agreements facilitate the spread of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda in Hungary, expand agricultural cooperation, and allow China to expand the footprint of its predatory Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) debt trap project in the country. Following a celebratory welcome to Xi in Budapest, Orbán declared China “one of the pillars of the new world order” and vowed to ensure that Hungary’s foreign policy would remain friendly to the CCP.

Orbán also thanked Xi for allowing Hungary to import Chinese-made Wuhan coronavirus vaccine products in 2021, through which the prime minister said “the lives of many Hungarians were saved.”

Xi, in turn, thanked Orbán for Hungary’s “unequivocal and firm support for China on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and human rights,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Orbán reportedly reiterated Hungary’s denial of the existence of the free nation of Taiwan and endorsed other key Chinese communist foreign policy goals, such as the poorly received Chinese plan to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Orbán, widely popular in Hungary for policies that have bolstered the nation’s economy and limited uncontrolled immigration, has marketed himself as one of the world’s most vocal opponents of Marxism. Following the landslide victory of his political party, Fidesz-KDNP, in national elections in 2022, Orbán applauded voters for rejecting “the left at home, the international left all around, the Brussels bureaucrats, the [George] Soros empire with all its money, the international mainstream media, and in the end, even the Ukrainian president.” He also claimed his policies were “conservative civic politics.”

Orbán has not publicly associated China, the world’s largest and most influential communist country, with the “international left.” He has instead embraced greater economic cooperation with Beijing and rejected pressure to condemn China’s ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people of East Turkistan, its decades-long violent repression of Christianity, its political prisoner organ harvesting program, and the many other crimes on the long list of Beijing’s documented human rights abuses.

Orbán and his wife personally greeted Xi at the airport, an uncommon gesture of reverence from a head of government.

On Thursday, the Hungarian prime minister expressed gratitude for the longstanding friendship between Budapest and Beijing.

“Hungary wants to import the best technologies, and in some areas, China is the best — in some cases far ahead of others,” Orbán said, according to the Hungarian government press site About Hungary. He claimed that Hungary was the only country not “on the side of war” with Ukraine and supported China’s “peace plan” for the country, a vague set of suggestions, including, “calm down as soon as possible.”

In his remarks, Xi emphasized that he and Orbán allegedly shared “similar views and positions on international and regional situations” and that they respected each other’s political systems.

“Prime Minister Orbán and I both agree that China and Hungary have always been good friends that trust and support each other as well as good partners that seek win-win cooperation over the years,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted Xi as saying. “We should further elevate our relations and enrich our cooperation. … We both believe that profound political mutual trust has laid a solid foundation for China-Hungary relations.”

The Chinese government published a list of 18 agreements signed during Xi’s time in Hungary. The first one on the list expands the influence of China’s BRI in Hungary. The BRI is a global infrastructure plan in which China offers poorer countries predatory loans to pay Chinese companies to build roads, ports, and railways. Many BRI participants find themselves ensnared in onerous debt traps and lose control of the projects to the Chinese government.

Several of the 18 agreements signed expand cooperation between the two countries’ finance ministries and expand investment, including in “green development.” One of the agreements establishes a protocol for the transfer of bovine semen, and another regulates cherry imports from Hungary. In addition, the countries signed a memorandum of understanding on “Promoting Supply Chain Cooperation Between Chinese and Hungarian Enterprises,” making the Hungarian economy more dependent on Chinese factories.

Three of the agreements link Chinese state propaganda outlets to Hungarian media counterparts.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian told reporters on Friday that Xi believes China’s relationship with Hungary is “now at its best in history.”

“President Xi underlined China appreciates Hungary’s long-term commitment to a friendly policy toward China and its unequivocal and firm support for China on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and human rights,” Lin said, calling for “win-win cooperation … within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” among other areas.

The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper applauded Orbán on Friday for dismissing national security concerns with expanding Chinese influence in his country.

“Hungary has never obstructed cultural exchanges between the two countries under the pretext of ‘national security,'” the Global Times praised. “Hungary leads Europe in Chinese language education. There are five Confucius Institutes in the country, and Chinese language has been incorporated into the national education system and become a subject in the college entrance examination.”

The outlet highlighted Hungary’s expansion of its electric vehicle industry and lithium-ion battery production as particular success stories.

“Currently, Hungary’s share of global lithium-ion battery production capacity ranks second only to the US, placing it among the world’s advanced high-tech markets,” the newspaper noted. “At the same time, benefiting from Hungary’s favorable business environment, more and more Chinese enterprises are investing and setting up factories here, forming a virtuous cycle.”

Hungary is the last leg of a European tour that took Xi to France and Serbia before landing in Budapest.

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