Built on commonalities
China Daily Globa

Relationship between Hungary and China has been characterized by friendly cooperation

We are witnessing a transformation of the world order. The center of  gravity of the world economy is shifting to the East, and the unipolar  world order following the Cold War is changing into a multipolar world  order.

In 2010, the government of Hungary, recognizing the transformation of  the world order, announced the policy of "Opening to the East".Prime  Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban stated that "we sail under the Western  flag, but today an eastern wind is blowing in the world economy".

Since 2010, the political, economic and cultural relations between  Hungary and China have become stronger and stronger because of the  Hungarian government's "Opening to the East" policy and the common roots  from which we have inherited the same way of thinking.

In 2015, Hungary was the first country in Europe to join the new Silk  Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, which is celebrating its 10th  anniversary this year. Of course, in addition to the Silk Road, the  relationship between the two countries has been characterized by many  other friendly cooperations over the past years: In 1949, Hungary was  one of the first to recognize the People's Republic of China and  establish diplomatic relations; in the past more than 70 years, the two  countries have supported each other in many areas.

Hungarian-Chinese relations are well characterized by the fact that  Hungary's accession to the International Monetary Fund in 1982 was  possible with the effective help of the People's Republic of China. In  the 1980s and 1990s, numerous delegations from the People's Republic of  China arrived to study and utilize Hungarian economic policy during the  Chinese reforms. Thanks to good economic and financial relations, the  Bank of China opened a representative office in Hungary in 2002 as the  first Chinese bank in the Central and Eastern European region. In  addition to this economic connection, there are also many connections in  the cultural field, such as the 19th-century Hungarian poet Sandor  Petofi's poem Freedom and Love, which is very popular in China, as well  as Hungarian inventions such as Rubik's Cube. A close, friendly  relationship has developed between Hungary and China over the past  years, which reached a new level with the 2010 "Opening to the East"  policy.

But what does the new level mean?

First, policy coordination. Hungary played a major role in  establishing cooperation between China and the Central Eastern European  (CEEC) countries in 2012, which is also of prime importance in the Belt  and Road Initiative. In 2015, Hungary was the first to join the  initiative, and in 2018, Budapest hosted the seventh China-CEEC summit.  Prime Minister Viktor Orban has participated in the events of the Belt  and Road Forum on several occasions, and Hungary was guest of honor at  the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai in 2018. Political  relations and economic cooperation have strengthened the connections  between the two countries.

Second, infrastructure connectivity. Today, there are direct flights  between Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and Beijing, Shanghai and  Chongqing. The Budapest-Belgrade railway project being built in Hungary  is a priority project of the Belt and Road Initiative, through which  Hungary will also be connected to China by rail. Hungary also plays an  important role as a logistics center between China and the European  Union, as 15 percent of China's total European imports still pass  through Hungary. These infrastructural connections greatly support the  Hungarian-Chinese trade relations.

Third, unimpeded trade. In 2021, bilateral trade between China and  Hungary increased by 34.5 percent compared to the previous year,  reaching $11 billion. In addition, the agricultural cooperation between  the two countries is constantly expanding, thanks to which Hungary has  the largest number of import licenses for food products from the Central  European region. As a result, China has now become one of Hungary's  most important trade partners outside the European Union.

Fourth, financial integration. Today, the Bank of China, China  Construction Bank and China Development Bank all operate in Hungary. In  addition to Chinese banks, large Chinese companies such as Huawei, BYD,  NIO, Lenovo, Wanhua and ZTE have also chosen Hungary as their  headquarters for the Central and Eastern European region. The largest  green field investment in Hungary to date, 7.34 billion euros ($6.67  billion), is by Chinese company, CATL. Peter Szijjarto, Minister of  Foreign Affairs and Trade, stated in February this year that  negotiations are currently underway with four large Chinese companies,  as a result of which new investments worth eight to 10 billion euros may  arrive in Hungary. According to the China Belt and Road Initiative  Investment Report 2022 by Fudan University, the major beneficiary  countries of Chinese investments were Hungary ($7.6 billion) followed by  Saudi Arabia ($5.6 billion) and Singapore ($2.5 billion), and the  countries with the largest growth of the Belt and Road Initiative  engagement were Hungary (6,233 percent), Malaysia (877 percent) and the  Philippines (578 percent).

Fifth, connecting people. Hungary is home to the largest Chinese  community in Central Europe, which greatly promotes the development of  Hungarian-Chinese relations in all areas. Furthermore, in Hungary, in  addition to the Chinese Cultural Center, five Confucius Institutes help  deepen Hungarian-Chinese cultural relations and symbolize the excellent  relations between the two countries. Also the number of Chinese  university students in Hungary is growing rapidly, reaching around 3,000  nowadays, while their number was as low as 272 in 2010.

Why do Chinese companies choose Hungary? In addition to Hungary's  geographical location in the heart of Europe, the important factor is  that Hungary's political and economic situation is stable, and thus  Hungary offers Chinese companies predictability and a stable business  environment.

In the end, it is important to point out, as I indicated at the  beginning of the article, that a new world order is currently emerging,  the basis of which may be the Belt and Road Initiative. Regarding the  Ukraine conflict, Hungary shares the same position as China, advocating  for peaceful negotiations. The common roots and the common way of  thinking determine the cooperation between the two countries, which can  be clearly observed in the 70-plus-year relationship between Hungary and  China, but especially in recent years, in the age of great changes.

Copyright © 2013, Secretariat for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries
Address: No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100701 E-mail:china_ceec@mfa.gov.cn FAX:86-10-65962554