Asia & Pacific

‘Mellow as Tokaji Wine’: How Xi-Orban Talks Added to Bilateral Cooperation

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) prior to a welcoming ceremony in Buda Castle of Budapest, Hungary on May 9, 2024.

Oleg BurunovThe Chinese leader praised the Beijing-Budapest relationship, which he stressed “is at its best in history and has embarked on a golden voyage.”Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban held talks in Budapest on Thursday as part of the Chinese leader’s final stop on his five-day European tour.The negotiations saw the sides sign 18 new agreements to deepen bilateral economic and cultural cooperation, including accords on nuclear energy, investment and tourism.

Xi told reporters after the talks that Beijing and Budapest have agreed to elevate bilateral relations to "an all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership for the new era."

“This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Hungary, ushering in a new and important opportunity for the development of bilateral relationship,” the Chinese leader pointed out.He added that during the Thursday talks, Orban, in particular, agreed that China’s Belt and Road Initiative “is highly consistent with Hungary’s strategy of opening to the east.”

Xi signaled Beijing’s readiness to "forge greater synergy in development strategies with Hungary, make good use of mechanisms such as the China-Hungary Inter-Governmental Belt and Road Cooperation Committee," as well as "actively expand cooperation in emerging areas such as clean energy and artificial intelligence."

The Chinese president also expressed hope that Hungary, which is to hold the rotating EU presidency in the second half of this year, will play an active role in promoting “the healthy and stable development of China-EU relations.”

In a similar vein, Orban, who touted China as "one of the pillars of the new world order," stressed that the Hungarian-Chinese trade had quadrupled in the past 20 years, transforming bilateral relations into "a strategic partnership."

The prime minister recalled that Chinese investment was so small in Hungary 20 years ago that a “magnifying glass” was needed to find it. Last year, however, three-quarters of all foreign investment in Hungary was by China, adding that it helped provide jobs for tens of thousands of Hungarians.”I would like to assure the president that Hungary will continue to provide fair conditions for Chinese companies investing in our country, and that we will create the opportunity for the most modern Western and the most modern Eastern technologies to meet and build cooperation in Hungary,” Orban underscored.WorldHungary to Oppose Any Attempts to Severe Economic Ties Between Europe and China, FM Says21 October 2022, 09:45 GMTThe Xi-Orban talks came shortly after the Chinese leader lauded the two countries’ “long-standing friendship” that he described “as mellow and rich as Tokaji wine” in an op-ed published by Hungary’s Magyar Nemzet daily, a nod to the world-famous Hungarian vineyards.”We have gone through hardships together and defied power politics together amid volatile international situations,” Xi emphasized, adding that China “looks forward to working closely with our Hungarian friends.”

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