Prime minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: MTI

Orbán: China-Hungary cooperation increasingly important

Cooperation between Hungary and China is becoming more and more important, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a video message, addressing the opening ceremony of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Thursday.

In the message, Orbán noted that global trade had been suffering for almost two years under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The “crisis has shown how interdependent we are”, and how successful health-care and economic measures in one country impact the recovery of another, Orbán said.

Last year also ushered in “extraordinary changes” in world economy, Orbán said. “The distribution of economic power is transforming in front of our eyes,” and Asian economies and companies are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the world economy, he said.

Meanwhile, a debate is ongoing in the European Union on how to shape the post-Covid world, Orbán said. “Here in the West there is a huge temptation to reintroduce a world economic order based on the rivalry of great world powers. I’ve seen this happen before; in fact I’ve lived half my life in such a world. Back then, it was the West standing against the Soviet Union,” he said.

However, many in the EU want to live in a world “based on trade, security, mutual respect and the unconditional recognition of each other’s sovereignty” rather than one “defined by the tension between great world powers,” Orbán said.

That is why Hungary sees it as crucial to be involved in Chinese economic development, and that China is present as a trading partner and investor in Hungary and central Europe, Orbán said. Hungary is committed to strengthening bilateral ties and sees China as a key strategic partner, he added.

“We are thankful to China and personally to President Xi for involving Hungary into China’s vaccination cooperation program at a very early stage. Without the vaccines bought from China we would not have been able to carry out the quickest vaccination campaign of the European Union,” he said.

Trade and economic ties between Hungary and China developed swiftly even in 2020, Orbán said. Last year, China was Hungary’s most important trading partner outside Europe, with the largest volume of investments arriving in Hungary from there, he said.

“Hungary looks forward to further developments and milestones in our relations with China. I do believe that forums like the Canton Fair will fulfil their role in being a bond of friendship and a bridge of trade between us and we can welcome new partners who discover the new perspectives of our cooperation and contribute to the development of our economies,” Orbán said.

The Canton import-export fair is the oldest and largest such event in China, organised by the Chinese foreign trade centre twice a year.

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