Photo: MTI

Government official: Protest against Fudan University 'political scare-mongering'

Karacsony: Fight against Fudan University campus ‘first step in retaking Hungary’

"The Fudan University affair is our first step in retaking Hungary from those in power," Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony said at a demonstration against the establishment of a local campus of China's Fudan University in front of Parliament on Saturday.

Karacsony, who is running in the opposition’s prime ministerial primary, vowed to block the establishment of the Fudan University campus and to take action on any issue in which the government “favours the privileged 1 percent over the 99 percent”.

“The biggest problem in Hungary today are those in power who don’t have any moral goals,” the mayor said.

“The Fudan affair is [ruling] Fidesz’s final and complete moral suicide,” he said. He said this issue proved that “every word of theirs is a lie” and that “nothing is sacred to them”.

Karacsony said the issue around the Fudan University campus was about deciding whether “those who see politics as ruling rather than service should be allowed to rule Hungary”.

“Can the country have a government that only values power?” he said.

“The Fudan issue is about whether this small country of 10 million can finally decide its own fate, about whether we will really be a free nation,” Karacsony said.

He said the issue around the university made it “crystal clear that when this government talks about national sovereignty, it’s actually talking about its own sovereignty and its free rein to steal”.

The mayor also criticised the government for refusing to take out a loan offered as part of the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery package, saying that they did not want to go into debt. “But they’ll go into debt whenever they have to . for Russian or Chinese interests,” he added.

Karacsony emphasised that the demonstration was not against China or the Chinese people, “although we are a world apart when it comes to human rights and democracy”.

“But we have our own problem with dictators,” he added.

The mayor said the demonstration had been organised in favour of the student quarter that was planned to be built in the same area as the Fudan University campus and against building a Chinese university from taxpayer money.

Karacsony urged the public to participate in a consultation on the Fudan University project and the opposition’s primary election, and to support the eventual nominees in the 2022 general election.

Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of Budapest’s 9th district, where the campus would be built, called the project a “private business venture funded by public money”. She said her district wanted to build the student quarter meant to help Hungarian students coming from outside the capital who are in need of affordable housing. “China is even building its own Trojan horse using our money,” she said.

Andras Jambor, the organiser of the protest and an opposition MP candidate, said it would take “many tiny steps” to block the establishment of the university which he said was “unlikely to have any Hungarian students”. He vowed to prevent the government from scrapping the student quarter project.

Aron Bereczki of the Students’ Union said the university would “send the country into debt” and “only serves the interests of the elite”.

“For us, the elite university is an illusion, because our reality is the crisis raging in Hungary,” he said.

The protesters gathered between Kodaly Korond and Heroes’ Square before making their way to Kossuth Square. The middle of the square was occupied by those with Covid-19 immunity certificates, while those without were cordoned off on the side of the square. Several opposition politicians also joined the demonstration.

Government official: Protest against China’s Fudan University ‘political scare-mongering’

A government official has dismissed a demonstration organised against the establishment of the Budapest campus of China’s Fudan University on Saturday as “political scare-mongering”, arguing that the organisers were protesting on the basis of “unfounded rumours and press reports”.

Tamas Schanda, a state secretary at the innovation and technology ministry, told a press conference that protests against the university campus were “pointless” at this stage, pointing out that the project was still in the planning phase.

No decision has been made on either the finances or the project’s implementation, Schanda said, adding that those steps were not expected until the second half of 2022, when the plans for the campus were completed.

He said that if Budapest’s municipal and 9th district leadership was willing to work “instead of clowning around”, they should contribute to the talks on the project. “Otherwise it’ll be their responsibility if the site of this major urban development project turns into a rust graveyard, landfill or a large bee pasture,” he said.

“If one applies some common sense, it’s clear that the student quarter planned to be built in the area and the university complement each other well,” he added.

Schanda said Fudan University was one of the world’s top institutions with outstanding research achievements, more than 4,500 instructors and some 30,000 students. He noted that the university was eyeing Budapest as the city in which it intends to set up its first campus outside China.

The government wants Hungarian young people to be the “winners of the future”, he said, adding that the university campus together with the student quarter would make that area of Budapest’s 9th district a liveable and attractive part of the city.

Leave a Reply