Hungary was the first European country to form a Belt and Road working group with China
In the latter period, given the success of China in the economic and technological fields, more and more European countries are seeking economic alliances with China. Yet, among these countries, Hungary was the first to focus on China.
As early as June 2015, Hungary signed the Memorandum of Understanding on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the first European country to form a Belt and Road working group with China. The Belt and Road initiative and the “16 + 1” cooperation mechanism then pushed China-Hungary relations to a new level.
According to the Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Duan Jielong, “relations between China and Hungary have entered the best period of history”. Firstly, China and Hungary maintain frequent high-level exchanges and the two countries enjoy a deep friendship.
China is Hungary’s main trade partner outside Europe
But one of the most important moments of this friendship is when, in May 2017, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban took part in the Forum on the belt and the road to international cooperation in Beijing. During the forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Orban jointly announced the establishment of a global strategic partnership between the two countries.
The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during his talks with Orban, said that China is committed to further advance bilateral cooperation in order to tighten ties with Hungary.
Furthermore, to strengthen the link between these two countries, there is also the construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway, an important cooperation project, which has so far progressed smoothly. In addition, the China Railway Express of Chinese cities, such as Xi’an, Chongqing and Changsha, arrived in Budapest last year.
Last year, trade between the two countries exceeded 10 billion US dollars.
The relationship between the two countries transformed Hungary into the main European country in which China invests. China’s cumulative investment in Hungary reached $ 4.3 billion, creating approximately 10,000 local jobs, according to Ambassador Duan.
In 2015, with the support of the Hungarian National Bank, the People’s Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, authorized the Bank of China to act as a Chinese yuan clearing bank in Hungary, which is also the first Chinese yuan clearing bank between CEE countries. “Since December 2016, direct transactions have started between the Chinese yuan and the Hungarian forint in the interbank market in Chinese currency,” said Duan.
Regarding tourism, however, according to the minister of foreign affairs and the Hungarian trade Peter Szijjarto, in 2017, 227,000 Chinese tourists arrived in Hungary, 34 percent more than a year earlier.
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