Xi Jinping sends love letter to Viktor Orbán

Chinese leader prepares for arrival in Budapest with gushing missive to Hungary.

May 9, 2024 - 00:36
Xi Jinping sends love letter to Viktor Orbán

Xi Jinping is whispering sweet nothings to his allies in Europe.

Ahead of his imminent visit to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Chinese leader celebrated the two countries’ 75-year-old diplomatic relations in a letter published Wednesday in a Hungarian outlet.

“Although the two countries are separated by a huge geographical distance, the friendship between the Chinese and the Hungarian people can still boast a long history,” Xi wrote in the pro-government outlet Magyar Nemzet, one day after penning a similar note to Serbia.

Stressing their cooperation during the Covid pandemic, when Hungary became the first EU country to authorize a Chinese-made vaccine, and “mutually beneficial cooperation” on infrastructure, the Chinese leader praised Hungary as an “important trading partner and the number one target country for Chinese investments in the Central and Eastern European region.”

Following a stop in France, Xi is spending the rest of his five-day tour in Southeastern Europe, a region that Beijing has used as a foothold for its strategic ambitions on the continent.

Tensions have been simmering between the EU and China over Beijing’s tacit support for Russia’s war on Ukraine and a looming trade conflict between Europe and China

Like its neighbor Serbia — where President Aleksandar Vučić is hosting Xi on Wednesday — Hungary has been open to Chinese investments.

As the first EU country to participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Hungary has sought a middle ground between West and East by cementing close ties with the Chinese Communist Party.

Xi also used the opportunity to stress the importance of China-EU relations, claiming that “their cooperation is greater than their competition, and there is more agreement than disagreement” and — similar to the Serbia letter — pushing for a “fair and orderly multipolar world.”

Both Serbia and Hungary are expecting the visit will yield concrete investment plans.

In a tweet Wednesday, Orbán’s spokesperson called the Chinese leader’s upcoming visit “a milestone” which could give “momentum to strengthening cooperation,” adding that both financial investments and an increase in direct flights between the two countries illustrate their close relationship.

“Instead of decoupling, we should aim for cooperation,” he added.

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