China’s Xi meets Orban in Hungary

Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok received Chinese President Xi Jinping in Budapest on Thursday with a ceremonial welcome before the latter was due to hold talks on possible further cooperation between the two countries. 

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, was at the ceremony , where Xi and Sulyok walked down a red carpet and listened to the Chinese and Hungarian national anthems.

Xi arrived in Hungary on Wednesday evening, after meeting leaders in France and Serbia on his first state visit to Europe since 2019.

In the Hungarian pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet, Xi wrote that he “developed deep friendships” with Hungarian politicians. He also described Hungary as “the number one target in the central eastern European region for Chinese investment.”

Chinese state media reported that Xi said Beijing was ready to promote high-level development of ties with Budapest, adding that their relations were not targeting, nor dictated by any third party.

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What is on the agenda?

Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely to be a topic of discussion. Earlier this week in Paris, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron sought to press Xi to use his influence on Moscow to end the conflict.

China and Hungary are also expected to sign more than 16 new cooperation agreements, according to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. 

Those agreements could include a large-scale infrastructure project within the Belt and Road Initiative, Szijjarto told the press earlier this week.

Budapest was the first EU member nation that joined the Belt and Road Initiative — the plan launched by Xi in 2013 to build networks connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.

It’s unclear whether there could also be an agreement on security, after China offered in February to cooperate on public security and law enforcement issues.

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fb/rm (dpa, Reuters)