Interview with the Chinese Ambassador in Budapest Qi Dayu
China and Hungary have set a good example for state-to-state relations
In the run-up to both anniversaries, we spoke to Qi Dayu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Hungary, about Sino-Hungarian relations and some current challenges in China.
How do you evaluate China-Hungary relations and cooperation?
Hungary was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. October 6th this year marks the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Hungary. For the past 73 years, China-Hungary relations have stood the test of wind and rain, gradually deepened over time, and are solid as rock.
In recent years, China and Hungary have achieved remarkable results in friendly cooperation and jointly created many “firsts”. Hungary is the first European country to sign a MOU on Belt and Road Initiative with China, the first central and eastern European country to set up an RMB clearing bank, the first European country to open a bilingual school teaching Hungarian and Chinese, and the first EU member to recognize and use Chinese vaccines. This year also marks the 5th anniversary of the establishment of China-Hungary comprehensive strategic partnership. Under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China-Hungary relations have witnessed high-level and high-quality development.
How close are the China-Hungary relations? In what aspects?
China and Hungary have set a good example for state-to-state relations by adhering to the principles of mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation.
First, strategic mutual trust has been deepened. Hungary adheres to a friendly policy toward China, abides by the One-China principle, and upholds a fair position on issues concerning China’s core interests, while China firmly supports Hungary to pursue a development path suited to its national conditions and to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.
In recent years, leaders of the two countries have maintained high-level exchanges through phone calls and meetings, charting the course for the development of bilateral relations. Since the beginning of this year, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó have met in person or spoken by phone four times. They had in-depth communications regarding each other’s core concerns and coordinated positions on major international issues, which fully demonstrates the high-level political mutual trust between the two countries.
They had in-depth communications regarding each other’s core concerns and coordinated positions on major international issues, which fully demonstrates the high-level political mutual trust between the two countries.
Second, practical cooperation has yielded fruitful results. In recent years, under the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-CEEC cooperation, the practical cooperation between China and Hungary has made commendable achievements. The economic and trade ties between the two countries have been increasingly strengthened and digital and green partnership forged.
The successful launch of direct cargo flights from Zhengzhou and Ningbo to Budapest has served as an “air bridge” for economic and trade exchanges between the two countries during the pandemic. The successful operation of new freight trains of China-Europe Railway Express further enhanced Hungary’s status as a logistics hub in the region. Practical cooperation between our two countries is continuing to radiate vigorous vitality.
Third, joint efforts between the two countries have helped to overcome difficulties, to be specific, the pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Hungary have supported each other and worked together to fight against it. In face of the severe situation of the pandemic, Hungary decided to take the lead in approving and using Chinese vaccines, showing high trust in Chinese vaccines. China has also given priority to Hungary by providing 5 million doses of vaccine, lending strong support to the Hungarian government in safeguarding people’s lives and health and restoring normal economic and social order. Our two countries have once again demonstrated that we are trustworthy partners and good friends to each other amid trying times.
The Chinese and Hungarian peoples respect each other’s long history and splendid culture.
Fourth, people-to-people programs and cultural exchanges between China and Hungary have flourished. The Chinese and Hungarian peoples respect each other’s long history and splendid culture. There are many bright spots in our cooperation on national and sub-national level in education, culture, science and technology. The five Confucius Institutes and the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school have fostered generations of envoys of friendship. Activities such as the “Happy Chinese Spring Festival”, the painting competition and the Chinese Bridge competition have written a moving symphony of China-Hungary friendship. With 42 pairs of sister city (province) relations, bilateral local cooperation has been deepened and strengthened. Since the beginning of this year, direct flights between China and Hungary have been resumed, further facilitating the people-to-people exchanges and business cooperation. China-Hungary friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the peoples.
Fifth, international coordination has become closer. China and Hungary are committed to true multilateralism, defending the international system with the United Nations at its core, upholding international law and basic norms governing international relations, and promoting fairness and justice. Hungary actively urged Europe to view China from a more objective and fair standpoint. As important founders of China-CEEC cooperation, the two sides have worked together to ensure the steady and long-term development of the mechanism so as to achieve more results, thus contributing to the sustainable, sound and stable China-EU relations.
What is the current status of Hungarian-Chinese cooperation?
Having jointly focused on high-quality construction of “Belt and Road”, China and Hungary have synergized the Belt and Road Initiative with the strategy of “Opening to the East” to achieve fruitful results in trade and economic cooperation. In the face of the adverse impact of the pandemic, China and Hungary have overcome difficulties to promote the quality and quantity of practical cooperation. Bilateral trade has bucked the trend, reaching US $15.71 billion in 2021, up 34.5 percent year on year. From 2012 to 2021, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was 8.4 percent.
What is China’s total investment in Hungary? How many jobs have the Chinese companies created for the local citizens?
Hungary has been the largest destination of Chinese investment in central and eastern Europe for many years. So far, Chinese companies have invested US $16 billion in Hungary, creating 23,000 jobs. The Budapest-Belgrade Railway and other major projects have made solid progress.
This year, a number of green and new energy projects such as CATL and NIO have been officially launched, injecting strong momentum into practical cooperation between the two countries. Several new projects are expected to arrive in Hungary in the coming years, creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Could you please give us a brief introduction about the Chinese community in Hungary?
As the Hungarians’ ancestors came from the East, the Chinese and Hungarian peoples share a natural sense of closeness. We have a relatively large Chinese community in Hungary. They have been working hard in trade, finance, catering, tourism, culture and education and making positive contributions to Hungary’s economic and social development. At the same time, they take advantage of their familiarity with the languages and cultures of the two countries to serve as a bridge for exchanges in various fields and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. It is believed that with the gradual resumption of international exchanges, the friendly exchanges between the two peoples will become more active and achieve greater development.
On October 1st , the People’s Republic of China will celebrate its 73rd anniversary of the founding. What achievements have China accomplished so far?
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC have achieved a historic leap from standing up to becoming rich and strong by embarking on a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics through self-reliance and hard work.
Over the past decade, China has made a series of brilliant achievements in national development: the first centenary goal achieved and a moderately prosperous society in all respects accomplished. We are moving toward the goal of building a great modern socialist country in an all-round way.
China’s GDP rose from 53.9 trillion yuan in 2012 to 114.4 trillion yuan in 2021, accounting for more than 18% of the world economy, up from 11.3%, and contributing more than 30% to global growth for many years in a row.
The people’s living standards have improved significantly, with a per capita GDP exceeding US $12,000 and an average life expectancy reaching 78.2 years. China has made a historic effort to eliminate absolute poverty, lifting 98.99 million rural residents out of poverty, creating a miracle in the history of poverty reduction.
We successfully coped with various risks and challenges and accomplished many major and difficult tasks. In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China has uphold the supremacy of the people, coordinating economic development and epidemic prevention and control. The Beijing Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics were successfully held, presenting a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic event to the world. The institutional superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics has been further demonstrated.
China has successfully entered the ranks of innovative countries—its ranking in the Global Innovation Index rising from 34th to 12th place, and a large number of new achievements being made in manned space flight, lunar exploration and quantum communication.
Major steps have been taken in building a more beautiful China, with more blue skies and white clouds, more livable urban and rural environments, and a path of civilized development featuring increased production, a prosperous life, and a sound ecological environment. “Clear waters and green mountains are as good as mountains of gold and silver” has become the consensus and action of the whole society.
How will China’s development prospects be like?
The Communist Party of China takes development as its top priority in governing and rejuvenating the country, and takes realizing the people’s aspirations for a better life as its goal. Based on its national conditions, adapting to and advancing with the trend, China has found a development path that suits itself and benefits the world. The 5000-year-old Chinese civilization has endowed us with the aspiration and wisdom to pursue harmonious and peaceful development.
With the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the united efforts of the 1.4 billion people, the solid foundation for sustained and rapid development, and the spiritual strength of self-confidence and self-improvement, the trend of China’s development will be for the better in the long run, the prospect of China’s progress will be even brighter, and the story of the Chinese miracle will be even more exciting.
Next month, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held in Beijing. The Congress will comprehensively review China’s major achievements and valuable experience in reform and development, fully grasp the new requirements for China’s cause and the new expectations of the people on the new journey in the new era, and formulate a program of action and major policies. Standing at a new historical starting point, China will achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through modernization with Chinese characteristics, and work with other countries to do its best for peace and development, to take responsibility for unity and progress, to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and to jointly create a better world.
How has China responded to the ongoing challenges such as the pandemic, the Ukraine crisis and the continuous pressure from the United States?
The world today has entered a new period of turbulent change, with more unstable and uncertain factors, and more “black swan” and “gray rhino” events. In the face of changes unseen in a century and the superimposed impact of the pandemic, China advocates and practices true multilateralism, opposing the hegemonic power and political blocs; safeguards the international system based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter with the United Nations at its core; and promotes the development of the global governance system in a more equitable and reasonable direction.
President Xi Jinping put forward the grand goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind as well as major initiatives such as the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. All of these ideas presented a clear Chinese plan, fundamentally responded to the universal demands of all countries in the world to pursue development and progress, and brought together all countries across the world for a better future. It is hoped that all countries will work together to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world with lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
What is your view on the China-US relations? How could a healthy and constructive relationship be built?
In recent years, China-US relations have attracted international attention. Since China and the US are the world’s top two economies, the largest developing and developed countries, China-US relations will have an important and far-reaching impact on the development of the two countries and the world at large.
The progress and development of human society entails constantly drawing lessons from human history, gathering up the courage, leveraging the wisdom and breaking the mind-set that a great power is bound to seek hegemony. On top of that, it is also required to get rid of the cold war mentality and the bloc confrontation, insist on mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and unswervingly pursue a new type of international relations and of major-power relations.
It should be noted that enhanced exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States meet the expectations of the international community and serve the fundamental interests of both countries. Both President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden believe that China-US relations should only be improved rather than damaged. Both believe that there should be no conflict or confrontation between China and the United States. Both call for closer exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.
The US always contradicted itself. It argues for stable China-US relations. At the same time, it defines China as the primary rival and the most serious long-term challenge, constantly creates “democracy against authoritarianism” narrative, continues to wage trade war against China. The US keeps provoking China on issues concerning China’s core interests and development rights, for example, by indulging in Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, to visit Taiwan. That is why the US keeps deviating from the right track of China-US relations.
The US has to adjust its foreign policy towards. otherwise it will be difficult to maintain stable China-US relations and the China-US relations may even slide into a more dangerous situation. China will not become another United States. The US cannot mould China to its liking. Neither side is able to topple the other down. Instead, both sides need to pursue a common goal by respecting choices of each other and sticking to win-win cooperation based on equality and mutual respect.
What is China’s position on the Ukraine issue?
China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. President Xi Jinping pointed out that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, the reasonable security concerns of all parties should be taken seriously, and all efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully should be supported. The “four shoulds” are China’s most authoritative statement on the Ukraine issue and also China’s fundamental approach to this issue.
In response to the current situation, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward China’s four-point proposal during the UN General Assembly: First, we must adhere to the direction of dialogue and negotiation. Second, we must work together to ease tensions. Third, the humanitarian situation must be alleviated. Fourth, full efforts must be made to contain spillover effects. As a responsible major country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has always been committed to promoting peace talks. We will never stand idly by, pour fuel on the fire or take advantage of the situation to make profits. China always stands on the side of peace and will continue to play a constructive role.
Qi Dayu has been the Chinese Ambassador to Hungary since October 2020. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in 1986 and served as Deputy Director-General of the Eurasian Department and Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.