Asked about relations between the United States and China at Thursday’s government press briefing, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Hungary was interested in a form of cooperation between the two countries that benefitted central Europe and led to increased trade and investments rather than a cold war.
Asked for his thoughts on China expanding its political influence through economic agreements, Orbán said China’s Fudan University had a presence at five German universities and 24 Scandinavian ones, and also cooperated with Yale University in the US. He said that if these countries were all capable of protecting their national security interests, then Hungary would be too. Orbán added that as long as his government was in power, it would protect the country from foreign influence. He said it was wrong to assume that outside influence peddling was limited to certain ideologies. “This is a part of international politics.” “Hungary is also a participant in this, as well as a target, and if it’s a target it will defend itself, be it against Germans, Americans or the Chinese.” Orbán said he did not believe that the left’s “anti-China rhetoric” could harm Hungary’s foreign policy or economy, arguing that Hungary-China relations were “very strong”. He said there was also a race within the EU for member states to deepen their ties with China. Germany is leading that race, and Hungary shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to boost its ties with China, either, he said.
On the subject of the planned campus of China’s Fudan University in Budapest, Orbán said the issue really concerned higher education, but the leftist opposition had turned it into a political gambit. Therefore the only way to settle the matter, he said, was to hold a referendum on it once the plans for the campus are complete.