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China and Hungary aiming to push ties to new high

By Duan Jielong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-09-30 09:48

This year is of special significance to China and its bilateral relations with Hungary. On Oct 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was founded, and on Oct 6 that year, China and Hungary officially established diplomatic relations.

Over the past 70 years, the friendship between the two countries has grown stronger. After the founding of New China, Hungary was one of the first countries to lend a helping hand to China. Hungary offered support in oil field exploration on the Songliao Plain in Northeast China, construction of a central radio station, development of soccer and cultivation of professional talent.

Hungary backed China at the United Nations. The Chinese people will not forget Hungary's help in providing relief materials and inviting children to Hungary for recovery after the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008.

The bilateral ties have reached new heights. In 2017, President Xi Jinping and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban jointly announced that the relations had been upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Mutual political trust has been strengthened. Hungary was the first European country to support the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

High-level exchanges have laid a solid foundation for bilateral ties. In 2017 and 2019, Prime Minister Orban visited China to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, demonstrating his support for Belt and Road cooperation. In November last year, Hungary served as the chief guest of honor at the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai. Orban attended the expo and held in-depth exchanges with President Xi. In May, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, made a goodwill visit to Hungary. In July, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Hungary.

In 2015, the BRI and Hungary's Opening Up to the East policy achieved strategic alignment. It was the first time that China and a European country signed a Belt and Road intergovernmental cooperation document and launched the One Belt and One Road working group mechanism.

Hungary is China's third-largest trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe, and China is Hungary's largest trading partner outside of the European Union. Their two-way trade reached $10.88 billion in 2018, up 7.5 percent year-on-year.

Hungary remains the top destination for Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe, covering a range of areas, including chemicals, finance, telecommunications, automobiles, logistics and traditional Chinese medicine. China's investment in Hungary has reached $4.3 billion.

Our financial cooperation has deepened. We have renewed the currency swap agreement, and Hungarian financial institutions have continued to issue renminbi bonds. An RMB clearing center has been established in Hungary.

The two countries have maintained close cooperation in culture, education, health, tourism, media, youth, interparty relations and local affairs.

At present, five Confucius Institutes are operating in Hungary, playing an active role in promoting Chinese teaching and spreading Chinese culture in Hungary. The first Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school in Europe, which uses both the mother tongue and Chinese language in teaching, has been upgraded to a high school.

Beijing and Shanghai have both opened direct air routes to Budapest, and the number of Chinese tourists to Hungary has continued to grow rapidly.

The development of China-Hungary relations is a result of joint efforts of both sides. The following experiences are worth summarizing.

First, mutual understanding and respect are crucial. China and Hungary differ in population, economic size, land area and social systems. However, they have adhered to the principles of independence, mutual respect and equal treatment.

Second, mutual support is also important. After the global financial crisis and the European debt crisis of this century, some countries, including Hungary, faced difficulties in their economic development. China supported Hungary in overcoming difficulties and made important contributions to restoring confidence in the European market.

Third, cooperation and mutual benefit are necessary. The two sides have made full use of their unique advantages in industry, capital and talent. Major progress was made in the construction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway. A number of Chinese enterprises, including Huawei, ZTE and BYD, expanded their investment in Hungary, creating more than 15,000 jobs in Hungary.

The China-Hungary comprehensive strategic partnership will usher in new opportunities for development. Let us seize these opportunities and continue to enhance mutual exchanges and friendship between our two peoples, enhance the atmosphere of China-Hungary friendship, build more consensus and push our bilateral relations to a new high.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Hungary. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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