Shared value takes China-Hungary relationship to golden voyage

People welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in Budapest, Hungary, May 8, 2024. /Xinhua

People welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in Budapest, Hungary, May 8, 2024. /Xinhua

Editor’s note: CGTN’s First Voice provides instant commentary on breaking stories. The column clarifies emerging issues and better defines the news agenda, offering a Chinese perspective on the latest global events.

In their Thursday meeting in Budapest, Chinese President Xi and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced they would elevate the China-Hungary bilateral relationship to an all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership for the new era. During the stay of the last leg of his European tour, Xi also pledged that Beijing would work with Budapest to forge greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Hungary’s Eastern Opening strategy.

As a member of both NATO and the EU, Budapest has long regarded Beijing as a reliable partner. Hungary was among the first to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1949, the first within Europe to sign a cooperation agreement for China-proposed BRI, the first on the European continent to use Chinese and local language for instruction in public schools, and is also home to the first RMB clearing center in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

The country’s Eastern Opening strategy has further instilled impetus to the flourishing Beijing-Budapest cooperation. As a result of its Look East efforts, Hungary has become China’s top investment destination and its important trading partner in the CEE. One-sixth of Hungary’s foreign direct investments are from Chinese investors, according to official data.

“There is a large work force and highly developed technologies (in Eastern economies). So it’s obvious that a country cannot operate economically successfully if it doesn’t have cooperation with the East,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó was quoted by the Global Times as saying.

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, Hungary, May 9, 2024. /Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, Hungary, May 9, 2024. /Xinhua

In this context, Beijing and Budapest’s joint will to forge greater synergy in their development strategies is no surprise. As Xi pledged during his Budapest stay, the two countries will strengthen cooperation in clean energy, artificial intelligence, the digital economy, green development and other emerging areas. Such cooperation will not only bring enormous economic opportunities to both countries, but is also good news for global economic recovery.

To better synergize the BRI with Hungary’s Eastern Opening strategy, China’s electric vehicle giant BYD announced its plan last year to build an assembly plant in Hungary, making it the first Chinese car company to build a passenger car plant in Europe. The construction of the plant, according to BYD, will create “thousands of local jobs,” support Hungary’s “green economy transformation” and promote “technological exchanges and innovations” between the two countries.

BYD’s move is welcomed by local people. “Hungary benefits through collaboration with Chinese companies, global leaders in power battery production with cutting-edge technology,” Csaba Moldicz, head of the Center for International Economy at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium Foundation of Hungary, said in an interview with Xinhua, adding that Hungary’s automotive industry represents cooperative opportunities for new investors.

At present, both Beijing and Budapest stand at an important stage of development. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties. China-Hungary cooperation is ushering in a new and important opportunity for the development of bilateral relations. While China is pursuing high-quality development and high-standard opening-up, Hungary for its part is also striving for greater development. In this context, greater synergy between China-proposed BRI and Hungary’s Eastern Opening strategy will take their partnership to new heights.

With Xi’s fruitful visit to Hungary, the China-Hungary bilateral relationship is at its best in history and has embarked on a golden voyage. “Our long-standing friendship is as mellow and rich as Tokaji wine,” Xi said in his signed article published Wednesday in the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet. China’s cooperation with Hungary and other CEE countries conforms to the trends of the times and is also an important complement to overall China-Europe ties.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected]. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)