President Xi Jinping - Photo: Wikipedia

Government spokesperson: Boosting bilateral econ ties a main topic of Chinese president’s visit

Boosting Hungarian-Chinese economic cooperation further will be one of the main topics on the agenda of the Chinese president's visit to Hungary, Eszter Vitalyos, the spokesperson of the government, said on Tuesday.

Xi Jinping will pay an official visit of historic significance in diplomacy to Hungary on May 8-10, at the invitation of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President Tamas Sulyok, she told journalists. Xi is scheduled to arrive in Budapest on Wednesday and is set to meet Sulyok on Thursday, she said.

The visit is of historic significance also because it will be part of the Chinese president’s first visit to Europe after the coronavirus pandemic, Vitalyos said, noting that Xi’s schedule includes visiting only two European Union member states: Hungary and France, and a third country, Serbia, in the continent.

The Chinese president’s schedule in Budapest includes a lunch with Orban which will be attended by the two leaders’ wives, Vitalyos said, adding that sports was expected to come up as a common topic of discussion since Xi is regarded as a big soccer fan.

Concerning the schedule, Vitalyos said it included the ministers of the two states signing 16 agreements, adding that consultations on another two were ongoing. She highlighted a planned agreement on potential infrastructure upgrades linked to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

China was Hungary’s ninth most important trading partner in 2023 and is still the leading trading partner of the country outside Europe, Vitalyos said, adding that Hungary continued to welcome investments from China and offers investors uniquely favourable investment environment.

She called financial cooperation an area with great potential in bilateral relations, adding that Hungary’s goal was to become a financial centre in the region and to serve “as a bridgehead” for an increasing number of Chinese banks in Europe.

The other topic featuring high on the agenda of talks will be the war in Ukraine and the peace plan prepared by China, Vitalyos said, adding that Hungary welcomed the peace plan. “China is unquestionably one of the strongest states in the pro-peace camp that keeps emphasising the importance of peace,” she said, asserting that there was full consensus between Hungary and China on the matter.

Vitalyos noted that the two countries will celebrate the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties in October and are preparing to celebrate the anniversary with a multitude of cultural programmes.

She highlighted the importance in bilateral relations of direct flights to be operated from seven Chinese cities to Budapest from the summer.

Hungary highly appreciates China’s unilateral visa-waiver scheme introduced on March 14 and allowing Hungarian citizens to stay in China for 15 days without needing a visa, Vitalyos said.

She said Hungarians were increasingly interested to learn about China, its culture and language. There are currently 214 students learning Chinese at the Budapest ELTE University and 556 students learning Chinese in primary schools and 294 in secondary schools, Vitalyos noted, adding that the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual primary and secondary school in Budapest was unique in the region.

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