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Sino-Hungarian summit in Beijing

February 15th, 2014

Commentators agree on the importance of broadening business ties with China, but left-wing analysts criticise the political overtones of the Prime Minister’s visit to Beijing.
In Népszava, Tamás Rónay admits that China is a vital actor on the stage of the world economy and Hungary must expand bilateral business ties. But he does not approve of the Prime Minister’s statement defining political stability in the two countries as being comparable. He calls it an unfortunate formula, but then switches to irony, suggesting that Mr Orbán has yet to improve his system if he intends to catch up with China in terms of dictatorial practices. In his concluding remarks, he prophesies that no leaders keep their posts forever, whether in China or in Hungary.

In its daily lead article, Népszabadság wonders why in his speech in Beijing, the Prime Minister had to promise 4 per cent growth for 2016. The left wing daily reminds the leader of earlier growth forecasts that have not materialised over the past four years, but remarks that none of them were made by Mr Orbán himself. “The problem with figures is that they tend to transmute into expectations”, Népszabadság warns.

In Magyar Hírlap, Csaba Szajlai agrees that the four per cent growth announced by the Prime Minister in Beijing is still far away, but remarks that such growth rates have already been seen in the past. Hungary has been an EU member for 10 years and during that decade “we have not developed an inch, despite the substantial infusion of EU funds”, he notes. Szajlai believes Sino-Hungarian trade offers huge potentials, as for the moment exports to China amount to a mere six billion Euros, a tiny fraction of the total export figure of 156 billion. _

Magyar Nemzet’s Anna Szabó interprets the date of the Prime Minister’s visit as proof of Chinese confidence in the present Hungarian government. In an abrupt move last year, Mr Orbán cancelled his visit to Beijing because he had to face the EU Parliament debate on the Tavares report on Hungary (see BudaPost, July 5, 2013). Not only have the Chinese leaders not shown any sign of taking offence, but they have received Mr Orbán as their first international guest since the Chinese New Year started and a few weeks before the parliamentary elections in Hungary. Szabó believes such special attention is the result of Hungary being the first country in the region to have realised the importance of seeking innovative relations with China.

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