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Szijjarto urges EU to seek cooperation, not rivalry with China

Hungary sees China not as a risk factor or a threat, but as a country with which cooperation is beneficial, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Brussels on Thursday, urging the European Union to strive for relations based on mutual respect, rather than a rivalry with China.
25. May 2023 21:49

Unlike Hungary, most EU member states see economic cooperation with China as a threat, Szijjarto told a press conference after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, according to a foreign ministry statement.

“We don’t see any kind of risk or threat in China, but rather a country with which normal cooperation can benefit us greatly,” Szijjarto said.

He noted that China’s GDP is now higher than that of the EU. While in 2010 China accounted for 9 percent of global GDP and the EU 22 percent, China’s share has increased to 18 percent and the EU’s has fallen to 17, he said.

“If Europe sees China a rival, it will lose out,” he warned.

Szijjarto emphasised that if the car industry, which he said formed the backbone of the European economy, was to reinvent itself, Western car manufacturers needed electric batteries, for which they were dependent on Eastern, particularly Chinese companies.

This “healthy division of labour” is not a risk, but rather an opportunity to develop civilised East-West cooperation, the minister said.

Szijjarto noted that Hungary had become the meeting point for Eastern and Western investments and that outside of Germany and China, it was only in Hungary that all three premium carmakers from Germany had factories. Additionally, four of the world’s ten largest electric battery makers are present, and this number will increase further, he added.

If Brussels tried to sever this division of labour on a political-ideological basis, it would do serious harm to the European economy, Szijjarto said.

Meanwhile, he criticised the EU’s eleventh planned sanctions package against Russia for including eight Chinese companies. He said it would trigger a response from Beijing, eventually leading to a negative spiral.

Turning to economic ties between the EU and the United States, Szijjarto said the “patriotic measures” introduced by the US were helping American businesses, while the sanctions imposed by the EU were hurting the bloc’s competitiveness.

He said it was a “naive illusion” on the European Commission’s part to try to negotiate with the US government on mitigating the discrimination faced by European businesses.

Szijjarto said the EU should instead copy the American measures so that they benefit European businesses.

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