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BRI cooperation leads a golden period of China-Hungary ties: Chinese Ambassador
[May 10, 2024]

BRI cooperation leads a golden period of China-Hungary ties: Chinese Ambassador

BEIJING, May 10, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hungary late Wednesday, the final destination of his European tour. Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Gong Tao (Gong) shared his views on the significance of the visit in an interview with Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen, reviewing the development of bilateral relations and the prospect of cooperation between the two countries in the future. 

GT: This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Hungary. Despite the changing international situation, the relationship between China and Hungary has continued to develop steadily, and in 2017, the two countries officially established a comprehensive strategic partnership. What do you think is the key to the success of the China-Hungary relationship? 

Gong: Hungary was one of the first countries to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and the relationship between the two countries has weathered storms and stood the test of time. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China-Hungary relations have maintained robust growth. Our two countries have had close high-level exchanges, deepened political mutual trust, made fruitful and solid progress in cooperation in various fields, and brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. China and Hungary have developed a comprehensive strategic partnership. They always respect each other's independently chosen development paths and domestic and foreign policies, firmly support enhanced connectivity, and advocate for a world of multipolarity and inclusive economic globalization. The two countries firmly oppose decoupling and bloc confrontation. They are good friends and partners, stand for mutual trust and win-win cooperation. They are on the path to national development and rejuvenation, and support maintaining world peace and stability. Looking ahead, the cooperation opportunities and prospects in various fields such as economy, trade, finance, innovation and culture between China and Hungary are limitless and broad.

On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, President Xi's state visit to Hungary comes at the invitation of President Tamás Sulyok and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. This visit sends a strong signal to further promote bilateral relations. This milestone visit will elevate bilateral relations to a new height, open a new chapter in China-Hungary friendship and cooperation, inject impetus into China-EU relations, and provide elements of stability and positive energy to a turbulent world.

GT: Hungary is the first European country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China, and we have seen fruitful results in China-Hungary cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Last year, the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was held in Beijing, and the construction of the BRI has entered a new stage of high-quality development. Could you introduce what new characteristics and directions China-Hungary cooperation under the BRI will have in the future? 

Gong: China and Hungary are steadfast partners in promoting cooperation under the BRI. Hungary is the first European country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China. Prime Minister Orbán has attended the BRF in China three times in a row, and President Xi has met with him multiple times. Under the strategic guidance of he leaders of both countries, the BRI and Hungary's Opening to the East policy are closely aligned, unleashing strong vitality and creating a number of high-quality cooperation projects. The 10 years of BRI cooperation between the two countries can be described as a golden period of rapid development in economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. In the future, the two sides will continue to promote high-quality joint construction of the BRI in key areas such as digital economy, green development, and information technology.

The two sides will further strengthen policy communication and coordination, rely on mechanisms such as the inter-governmental Belt and Road cooperation committee, the China-Hungary Economic Joint Committee, and e-commerce working groups to enhance strategic alignment. The two sides will actively explore new areas of cooperation and strengthen cooperation in new energy vehicles. They will also jointly create a model of win-win cooperation in the automotive industry chain between China and Europe, support the innovation of more high-quality financial products by financial institutions in both countries to provide strong support for cooperation, encourage the opening of more direct flights for passengers and cargo, and construct a land and air "Silk Road." The two sides will continue to deepen people-to-people exchanges, expand cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, tourism, and local areas, encourage exchanges between young people in both countries, promote mutual understanding between the people of the two countries, and enhance mutual understanding.

GT: The new energy industry chain, including electric vehicles and power batteries, has been the focus of recent investment by Chinese enterprises in Hungary. Why has Hungary become a bridgehead for the investment of Chinese enterprises in Europe?

Gong: Due to the friendly relations between China and Hungary and the favorable investment environment in Hungary in recent years, more and more Chinese enterprises have made Hungary their first choice for investment in the EU. The automotive industry is one of the pillar industries of Hungary's economy, and more than 14 of the world's top 20 automakers have established complete vehicle manufacturing plants and auto parts production bases in Hungary. In 2016, the Hungarian government also specifically formulated the development plan for electric vehicles, which provides a good foundation for the development of the electric vehicle industry in Hungary. At the same time, China has the advantages of advanced technology, broad market and high maturity in the global new energy industry. Both sides have complementary advantages and great potential for cooperation. Hungarians from all walks of life highly welcome Chinese enterprises related to electric vehicle industry chain to invest in Hungary, and they believe that the relevant investment and cooperation will further consolidate the foundation of Hungary's long-term economic growth, strengthen Hungary's position in the global transformation of electric vehicles, and enable Hungary to maintain its advantageous position in international competition.

GT: How has Hungary been able to maintain a consistently positive stance toward China? What changes might Hungary's role as the EU rotating presidency bring to China-EU relations?

Gong: The Hungarian government has always adhered to an independent domestic and foreign policy, staunchly supporting East-West connectivity. 

China appreciates Hungary's commitment to being a force for peace and stability in Europe under complex international circumstances, valuing Hungary's efforts to eliminate disturbances and pressures to deepen cooperation with China. The mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Hungary in various fields has benefited the people of both countries. Moreover, it has also strongly demonstrated that China represents an opportunity, not a challenge, and a partner, not a competitor, to Europe. 

In the second half of this year, as Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the EU, we hope that Hungary will encourage the EU to view China's development in a rational and friendly manner, adopt a more positive and pragmatic policy toward China, strengthen China-EU strategic communication, create more positive expectations for mutually beneficial cooperation, and promote the continuous, stable, and healthy development of China-EU relations.

GT: Starting March 14, China has implemented a visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from Hungary and five other countries. Hungary will also issue long-term visas to Chinese citizens visiting the country for investment and business cooperation. Could you elaborate on the implementation of these measures and their impact on China-Hungary economic, tourism cooperation, cultural and people-to-people exchanges? 

Gong: China and Hungary respect, understand, and appreciate each other. Following China's announcement of the visa-free policy for Hungary and other countries, Foreign Minister Szijjártó immediately announced on behalf of the Hungarian government the facilitation of issuing five-year, multiple-entry visas for Chinese citizens on business trips. This is another concrete manifestation of the high-level development of China-Hungary relations. These measures have further facilitated the movement of people between the two countries. Recently, Air China increased the number of direct flights from Beijing to Budapest, and China Southern Airlines will soon launch direct flights from Guangzhou to Budapest. The economic, tourism and cultural exchanges between China and Hungary will become smoother.

In terms of Chinese language teaching and studying in China, Hungary has always been at the forefront among European countries. Hungary hosts five Confucius Institutes and one Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school, while China has 12 universities offering Hungarian language majors. Both sides also have cultural centers in each other's countries. On the eve of last year's Spring Festival, President Xi personally replied to students from the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school, encouraging the Hungarian youths to learn more about China and become envoys of the China-Hungary friendship. I believe that the youth of both countries will become the driving force in promoting China-Hungary friendship, passing down the traditional friendship from generation to generation.


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SOURCE Global Times

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