Szijjarto: Budapest to get direct air link with seventh major Chinese city

A direct flight between Budapest and Shenzhen will start operating in June, bringing the number of major Chinese cities travellers can reach with direct flights from Budapest to seven, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, Peter Szijjarto, said in Beijing on Wednesday.

The new flight will operate twice a week, Szijjarto said after talks with Wang Wentao, China’s commerce minister, according to a foreign ministry statement.

“This means that from June, travellers will be able to reach seven Chinese cities via direct flights from Budapest, with the number of weekly flights rising to 19, which is one and a half times as many as there were before the pandemic, and much more than between any other central European airport or city and China,” he pointed out.

“The links between the two countries continue to expand, guaranteeing even more favourable conditions for the development of trade and economic cooperation,” Szijjarto said.

He noted Tuesday’s announcement of a new direct flight linking Budapest and Xi’an to be launched in the summer, as well as the recent announcement of a Budapest-Guangzhou flight.

Szijjarto, who on Wednesday is also scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, said after a meeting of the Hungarian-Chinese joint economic commission that both countries had benefitted greatly from the cooperation they had worked hard to build over the last decade and a half.

“This mutually beneficial Chinese-Hungarian cooperation clearly proves that the European Union is making a huge mistake when it depicts China and cooperation with China as some sort of threat,” the minister said.

“We don’t see cooperation with China as a danger or a risk, but rather as a major opportunity,” Szijjarto said. “A major opportunity to push Hungary’s economic growth to . a higher level.”

“We therefore oppose any European approach that tries to present China as a threat . that aims to restrict cooperation with China, and we also oppose any sort of procedure on the part of the European Union that would make economic cooperation between Europe and China more difficult,” the minister said. “We therefore also oppose the procedures the European Union is planning to apply to China’s electric vehicle sector.”

Szijjarto said the changing era of the global economy called for close and successful cooperation based on mutual respect between the EU and China.

He noted that China was the top foreign investor in Hungary last year, welcoming that Beijing continued to support companies establishing a presence in Hungary.

“And we in Hungary will guarantee all the conditions necessary for ensuring that these investments by Chinese businesses are swift and successful,” Szijjarto said. “We, of course, also guarantee these conditions for all companies investing in Hungary regardless of where they come from.”

Meanwhile, Szijjarto noted an agreement under which China’s government supports the wide-scale entry of Hungarian businesses onto the Chinese market.

He said a Hungarian company will begin producing medical diagnostic equipment in China from the second half of the year. Hungarian companies also have a strong presence in China’s pharmaceutical industry, he said, noting that drugmaker Richter’s revenues have increased by more than 20 percent in two years.

Hungary has the highest number of food export permits for China among central European countries, Szijjarto said, adding that exports offered an opportunity to further develop Hungary’s food industry.

Also, Hungary and China have reached an agreement on starting talks on regionalisation, he said. This would mean that, for instance, in the event of a bird flu or African swine fever outbreak, import bans would only apply to the area affected by the outbreak rather than the entire country, he said.

Szijjarto said he is later scheduled to meet with Chinese business executives and would hopefully be able to announce more investments in Hungary.

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