HomeTop StoriesChina's Xi arrives in Hungary for talks on expanding Chinese investments

China’s Xi arrives in Hungary for talks on expanding Chinese investments

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hungary late Wednesday, the final stop of his five-day European tour, where he is expected to finalize a number of deals with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that will expand China’s economic footprint in the region enlarge. region.

Xi will spend two nights in the Hungarian capital Budapest, where he will meet Orbán and Hungarian President Tamás Sulyok. The talks will focus on future Chinese investments in the Central European country, which has maintained close economic ties with Beijing even as mainstream European leaders have adopted more protectionist policies to limit its reach on the continent.

Orbán, a nationalist populist whose illiberal policies have pushed him to the margins of the European Union, made his country the first in the 27-member bloc to join Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative. Hungary finds itself in a middle ground between its membership of the EU and NATO and its willingness to establish diplomatic and trade ties with autocratic governments outside these groups.

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Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a news conference on Monday that Xi and Hungarian officials would sign at least 16 bilateral agreements during the visit, Xi’s first to the country as president.

Szijjártó called the visit “historic” and pointed out that China had delivered more foreign investment to Hungary in 2023 than any other country. He added that some of the agreements to be signed could include the expansion of the Belt and Road in Hungary, as well as investments in infrastructure and energy.

Xi’s arrival in Budapest came after a two-day visit to the Serbian capital Belgrade, where he signed an agreement on building a “shared future” with the Balkan country that, like Hungary, is seen as friendly to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

China has claimed neutrality in the Ukraine conflict but has refused to call the Russian attack an invasion and has accused it of boosting Russia’s military capacity. Hungary condemned the Russian invasion but threatened to block EU sanctions on Moscow and refused to provide military support to Kiev.

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Xi and Orbán are likely to discuss the war in Ukraine, Hungary’s eastern neighbor. The Hungarian government has strongly urged China to play a leading role in mediating peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and expressed support for a peace plan proposed by China.

Before Xi arrived on Wednesday, a number of demonstrators gathered in central Budapest to protest his visit and call for autonomy for Tibet, which is under Chinese control.

Tibor Hendrey, a representative of the Tibet Aid Society, said doing business with China is important for the Hungarian economy, but stressed the dangers of a relationship with a country with a poor record of democracy and human rights.

“We need a good relationship with a big empire, that’s not a problem. The problem is that China has a completely different culture, a completely different approach to human rights,” Hendrey said. “I have the feeling that they want to export this kind of thinking to Hungary, and that the Hungarian government is willing to accept that. ”

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