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Xi Jinping in Hungary to celebrate 'golden cruise' in relations with China

After Paris and Belgrade, Chinese President Xi Jinping is wrapping up his European tour in Hungary where A warm welcome awaits him on Thursday, between flourishing economic ties and a convergence of views on the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

Before his arrival Wednesday evening in the capital Budapest decked out in China's colors, he compared bilateral relations to a “golden cruise”, in an article published by the pro-government newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

“As sweet and rich as a Tokay wine”: in a lyrical burst, Xi Jinping paid tribute to the “friendship” cultivated by the two countries through “the trials”.

“We challenged the geopolitical order together in an unstable international context”, charting our path “as sovereign states in complete independence”, said – he writes.

A nod to the go-it-alone strategy led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban within the European Union.< /p>

While scrambling with Brussels, the nationalist leader has resolutely turned towards the East in recent years. And when Brussels distanced itself from Beijing, on the contrary strengthened ties, rejecting the ideological confrontation of the “blocs”.

– 16 agreements –< /p>

This almost three-day visit is an opportunity to “take our strategic partnership to new heights”, said the Chinese head of state, from cultural exchanges to economic cooperation , while the Asian superpower became the largest investor in Hungary last year.

In the opinion of experts, it is a “diplomatic success” for Budapest which has already announced the signing of at least 16 agreements, in rail and road infrastructure, nuclear energy and even automobiles.

Across the country, battery and electric car factories are growing at an impressive speed, with investments worth tens of billions of euros.

Xi Jinping in Hungary to celebrate &#39;golden cruise&#39; in relations with China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) at Budapest Airport, Hungary, May 8, 2024 © POOL – Vivien Cher Benko

Enough to arouse the concerns of the opposition which denounces the opacity surrounding contracts, the environmental impact of factories and corruption, constructions enriching according to them “Orban's circle”.

Very few details have filtered out on the program of the visit.

The day after a dinner of specialties traditional Hungarian traditions, Xi Jinping will begin the day with a military parade at 10:00 a.m. (08:00 GMT), alongside Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok.

He will then travel to the Carmelite Monastery, the Prime Minister's residence, to meet Viktor Orban and make a statement to the press.

For the rest, a trip to the provinces to announce a new project was mentioned by the media, as was the possible visit to a bilingual school, but without any official confirmation.

His departure is scheduled for late Friday afternoon.

– Message to the EU –

Welcomed on Monday under the auspices of the Elysée in Paris, Xi Jinping had “frank” exchanges with French President Emmanuel Macron on China-Europe trade disputes or again the Beijing-Moscow links, viewed with suspicion by the West against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

But during this final Hungarian stage, no angry subjects on the program .

“This is an opportunity to show the rest of the EU” the virtues of cooperation with China, underlines Ja Ian Chong, political scientist at the University of Singapore. “He will also not have to face delicate conversations about his relationship with Moscow.”

Xi Jinping in Hungary to celebrate &#39;golden cruise&#39; in relations with China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his wife Peng Liyuan (C) are greeted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (D) upon their arrival at Budapest Airport, Hungary, May 8, 2024 © POOL – Vivien Cher Benko

Because Beijing and Budapest are on the same wavelength, pleading for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine while remaining close to the Kremlin.

In the streets of Budapest, if some point out human rights, Laszlo Toth, a 52-year-old security guard, asks why be choosy about the arrival of the Chinese head of state.

“Money has no smell as they say, and I am sure that even in Western Europe, they would be delighted to benefit from such investments”, he believes.

For his first trip to Europe since 2019, Xi Jinping also made a stopover in Serbia, another very friendly country, where President Aleksandar Vucic gave him a warm welcome. “respect” and “love”.


All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116