China and Hungary have maintained friendly diplomatic relations for a long time, and the two countries support and benefit each other in the international community. Driven by Hungary's "opening to the East" policy and China's Belt and Road Initiative, Hungaria-China cooperation has been further strengthened and bilateral relations have reached new heights in political, economic, trade and people-to-people exchanges. In the international context of the changing world order, Hungary and China should continue to work together in times of difficulty to promote the steady and long-term growth of bilateral relations.
The current world order is undergoing changes. The center of gravity of the world economy is constantly shifting eastward. The unipolar world pattern formed after the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union is transforming into a multipolar one. In 2010, sensing this shift in the world order, the Hungarian government announced an "opening to the East" policy. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his country had been sailing with the West's sails, but now there was an "east wind" blowing in the sea of the world economy.
Since 2010, Hungary and China have been getting closer and closer in politics, economy and culture, thanks not only to the "opening to the east" foreign policy of the Hungarian government, but also to the common ground in the way of thinking of the two countries.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of China's Belt and Road Initiative. In 2015, Hungary became the first European country to join the initiative. Outside the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the two countries have also conducted friendly exchanges in various forms. As early as 1949, Hungary was one of the first countries to recognize and establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. For more than 70 years, the two countries have supported and benefited each other. In 1982, thanks to China's help, Hungary joined the International Monetary Fund, which fully demonstrated the friendship between the two countries. In the 1980s and 1990s, a number of Chinese delegations went to Hungary to learn economic policies and accumulate experience for domestic reform. Thanks to the sound economic and financial relations between the two countries, the Bank of China set up a representative office in Hungary in 2002, becoming the first Chinese bank in Central and Eastern Europe.
In addition to economic ties, the two countries also interact in the cultural field. For example, the 19th century Hungarian poet Pedofi's poem "Freedom and Love" is very popular in China, and Hungarian inventor Rubik's cube is also very popular in China.
In recent years, Hungaria-China friendly relations have been further developed, especially since Hungary implemented the "opening to the East" policy in 2010, and bilateral relations have reached a new height. Fruitful results have been achieved in the five pillars of the Belt and Road Initiative, namely the "five links".
First, policy communication. In 2012, Hungary played an important role in the establishment of the "16+1" cooperation mechanism between China and Central and Eastern European countries, which is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2015, Hungary was the first country to join the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2017, the sixth Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries was held in Budapest, capital of Hungary. In 2018, Hungary attended the first China International import Expo in Shanghai as the guest of honor. Prime Minister Orban has participated in the Belt and Road Forum many times. Political partnership and economic cooperation have strengthened the ties between Hungary and China.
Second, infrastructure connectivity. Direct flights have been launched between Budapest and Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. The Hungary-Serbia Railway project under construction in Hungary is a key project in the Belt and Road Initiative. Upon completion, Hungary and China will also be connected by rail. In addition, Hungary is an important logistics center between China and the EU, with 15 percent of China's total imports from Europe passing through Hungary. These infrastructure connectivity have strongly supported Hungaria-China trade relations.
Third, unimpeded trade. In 2021, bilateral trade between Hungary and China exceeded $11 billion, up 34.5 percent from the previous year. In addition, the agricultural cooperation between Hungary and China continues to expand, and Hungary has become the country with the largest number of food import licenses in Central Europe. At present, China has become one of Hungary's most important trading partners outside the EU.
Fourth, financing. The Bank of China, China Construction Bank and China Development Bank have all started business in Hungary, and large Chinese companies such as Huawei, BYD, Nio, Lenovo, Wanhua and ZTE have also set up their Central and Eastern European regional headquarters in Hungary. Hungary's largest greenfield investment to date has come from China's Ningde Times New Energy Technology Co LTD, with an investment of 7.34 billion euros. In February, Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Economy, Joachim Cijardo, said his country was in talks with four large Chinese companies and that Hungary could receive between 8 billion and 10 billion euros in new investment if they reached a deal.
According to China's Belt and Road Initiative Investment Report 2022 released by Fudan University, the major beneficiaries of Chinese investment are Hungary ($7.6 billion), Saudi Arabia ($5.6 billion) and Singapore ($2.5 billion). Hungary (6,233%), Malaysia (87.7 percent) and the Philippines (578 percent) recorded the fastest growth in BRI participation.
Fifth, people-to-people connectivity. Hungary has the largest Chinese community in China and Europe, which has strongly promoted the all-round development of Hungaria-China relations. In addition, the Chinese Cultural Center and five Confucius Institutes in Hungary have also deepened cultural ties between the two countries, symbolizing the friendly relations between the two countries. The number of Chinese students in Hungary has grown rapidly and now stands at about 3,000, more than 10 times the 272 in 2010.
So why do Chinese companies choose to invest in Hungary? In addition to its favorable geographical location in the center of Europe, Hungary's stable political and economic situation is also an important factor, which can provide predictable prospects and stable business environment for Chinese enterprises.
Finally, as I said at the beginning of this article, the world order is being rebuilt, and the Belt and Road Initiative may be the basis for a new world order. On the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Hungary holds the same position as China and advocates peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. The common ground between Hungary and China in the historical origin and way of thinking determines the close cooperative relations between the two countries. The fact that Hungary and China have maintained friendly diplomatic relations over the past 70 years, especially under the changing international situation, is the best proof of this.
The original title of this article was "Built on commonalities"