President Sulyok (r) and Chinese President Xi Jinping - Photo: MTI

President Sulyok receives Chinese President Xi in Budapest

President Tamas Sulyok received Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, in Budapest on Thursday, at a ceremony also attended by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The Chinese president, during a plenary discussion with Sulyok at the presidential Sandor Palace, said cooperation between China and Hungary was based on mutual respect and trust. “You know who your true friends are in times of hardship,” Xi said, quoting a Hungarian proverb.

Sulyok quoted Hungary’s Fundamental Law, saying Hungary respected other peoples’ freedom and culture and strove for cooperation with all nations of the world. He said Hungary continued to work to become a bridgehead between East and West.

Sulyok and Xi agreed that good political ties and mutual trust were at the heart of expanding economic, trade, investment and personal relations.

The leaders said the upgrade of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line and the direct flights between Budapest and seven Chinese cities were implementations in practice of those principles. Hungary is also a beneficiary of China’s visa exemption programme, they noted.

Ties in education resulted in 2,481 Chinese students studying in Hungary in the 2022/2023 academic year, showing the growing popularity of Hungarian universities among them, they said. Hungary is also the only country in Europe to have a bilingual Hungarian-Chinese elementary and secondary school where the pupils are taught subjects in both languages, and Confucius Institutes operate in Hungary’s five largest cities, they added.

Meanwhile, Hungary has taken large strides to support the green transition of the car manufacturing industry. Chinese battery manufacturing giant BYD’s decision to build its first European plant in Hungary would add further momentum to that process, they said.

Meanwhile, CATL’s 3,000 billion forint (EUR 7.7m) investment in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, is the country’s largest green-field investment, they said.

At the meeting, Xi expressed thanks for the “warm welcome and expressions of true friendship”.

He wished Hungary every success during its upcoming EU presidency, adding that he hoped the two countries’ ties would be further deepened and pragmatic cooperation expanded.

Xi invited Sulyok to Beijing, and the Hungarian president accepted his invitation.

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