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China's Xi meets Orban in Hungary

May 9, 2024

The Chinese president received a ceremonial welcome in Budapest, the final stop in his first Europe tour in five years. Xi and Prime Minister Viktor Orban committed to closer ties.

Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok receives Chinese President Xi Jinping with military honours at the Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary
Xi was received with military honors at the Buda Castle in Budapest, HungaryImage: Szilard Koszticsak/REUTERS

Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok received Chinese President Xi Jinping in Budapest on Thursday with a ceremonial welcome before agreeing on a "comprehensive strategic partnership." 

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, was at the ceremony , where Xi and Sulyok walked down a red carpet and listened to the Chinese and Hungarian national anthems.

Orban said that the two countries had always been friends and that Chinese companies were securing tens of thousands of jobs in Hungary. 

Xi arrived in Hungary on Wednesday evening, after meeting leaders in France and Serbia on his first state visit to Europe since 2019.

Xi called for a further expansion of relations between the two countries. "We both believe that the traditional friendship between our countries is based on solid foundations," he said. 

Chinese state media reported that Xi said Beijing was ready to promote high-level development of ties with Budapest, adding that their relations were not targeting, nor dictated by any third party.


What is on the agenda?

Russia's war in Ukraine was one of the key topics of discussion. Earlier this week in Paris, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron sought to press Xi to use his influence on Moscow to end the conflict.

"China is one of the pillars of the new world order," Orban said, adding that Hungary will support China's peace plan in Ukraine.

China and Hungary signed a slew of intergovernmental agreements to deepen their economic and cultural cooperation.

It include a large-scale infrastructure project within the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi said he and Orban agreed the Belt and Road Initiative "is highly consistent with Hungary's strategy of opening to the
east," and that China supports Hungary in playing a greater role within the EU on promoting China-EU relations.

Budapest was the first EU member nation to join the Belt and Road Initiative — the plan launched by Xi in 2013 to build networks connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.

Hungarians oppose Chinese university project

fb/rm (dpa, Reuters)