Hungarian Foreign Minister Solidifies Warm China Ties in Beijing Trip

Hungarian Foreign Minister Solidifies Warm China Ties in Beijing Trip
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó

The Lede: Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó discussed bilateral cooperation, investment, and negotiations for peace in Ukraine during a visit to Beijing.

What We Know:

  • Szijjártó spoke to his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang to reinforce each side’s support for working toward a ceasefire in Ukraine and the start of peace talks as soon as possible, according to Beijing’s proposed peace plan.
  • Meeting with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, Szijjártó highlighted Hungary’s unique relationship with China in attracting the most Chinese investment in Central Europe with major joint projects.
  • After a meeting with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and separate talks with the heads of major Chinese companies, Szijjártó announced that Hungary would be receiving €3 billion ($3.3 billion) in new Chinese investments in the automotive sector, which would be applied to factories of German carmakers in the country.
  • Hungary announced in the previous week that Chinese battery manufacturer EVE Power was planning to build a production plant in Debrecen in eastern Hungary. The plant would supply lithium batteries to BMW’s electric car plant nearby.

The Background: Hungarian President Viktor Orbán has lost favor with the EU by moving the country away from the bloc’s norms on judicial systems, free press, political opposition, and transatlantic relations. Under his leadership, the country has blocked EU sanctions on Russia and aid to Ukraine. Hungary has been a relative outlier among European and Western countries regarding China and Russia. It has maintained participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through railway projects and works closely with Chinese telecommunication companies despite U.S. and EU pressure over security concerns. Huawei Technologies plans to sponsor a scholarship program at the Public Service University in Budapest focusing on 5G research and innovation.

Likely Outcomes:

  • Hungary’s staunch position in favor of cooperation with China will likely continue as most of the rest of Europe has largely written the country off as an ‘illiberal democracy’ that does not follow the EU lead. Further tensions between the EU and Hungary will continue as the country cultivates its China ties.
  • China sees Hungary, along with neighboring Serbia as well as Montenegro, as windows into Europe for BRI expansion and further economic and political cooperation. The corridor of these three countries will likely be the site of more China-partnered development and construction in the future.


“We want to constantly develop European Union and Chinese cooperation. That obviously can’t happen if the EU puts Chinese companies on a list for sanctions or export controls.” – Péter Szijjártó, foreign minister of Hungary

"Friendship is a two-way street. We are ready to do our utmost to understand and support Hungary's legitimate requests and aspirations to advance our mutually beneficial cooperation." – Wang Yi, State Councilor of China

Good Reads:

Foreign Minister Hails Strong Cooperation with China (Hungary Today)

Hungary Sees €3 Billion in New Chinese Car Industry Investment (Yahoo News)

China-Hungary Ties: China vows to work with Hungary on 'true multilateralism' (CGTN)