Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivered a speech to the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Monday, reaffirming his commitment to deeper cooperation via China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“Hungary represents more than just itself,” Orban stated. “When you hear our voice, you hear the voice of our region [which] has recently become the growth engine of Europe.”
He also noted that Central Eastern Europe (CEE) countries’ common-sense economic and social policies helped preserve “national, political, and cultural identity even under the pressure of massive illegal migration”.
Hungary acquired a growth rate twice the rate of continental Europe, Orban stated, adding that the region “will become the source of the future development”.
He said that China helped CEE countries realize these developments via the “16+1 China-Central European Cooperation format”, which has gained prominence “even from the perspective of the giants”.
“Hungary has always been a supporter of [possibly] the most free and fair global trade network and we have always been a supporter of Euro-Asian cooperation,” Prime Minister Orban told Chinese president Xi Jinping, adding that his nation was committed to the “success of the One Belt, One Road Initiative”.
“That is why we were the first European country to sign the bilateral cooperation agreement [on] its implementation,” Orban continued, adding that Hungary valued “the presence of Chinese companies” such as Bank of China, Huawei, and Wanhua for conducting business in Hungary.
He added that other Hungarian engineering, food, and pharmaceutical businesses were increasing their footprint in China and thanked Chinese automaker BYD, who helped Hungary develop its Hungary’s labor force and maintain a 4 percent GDP growth rate.
“You can count on our regional support when it comes to your initiative to promote free and fair international trade, when it comes to enhancing Eurasian international trade and paying more attention to Central Europe,” the Hungarian prime minister said.
Hungary and the 16+1 Platform
The 16+1 Platform was established by China to facilitate deeper economic cooperation with 16 nation-states in Central Europe. Hungary was invited to the Expo, with over 130 countries and regions as well as 2,800 companies and 300,000 visitors in attendance.
After his address, Orban and other Hungarian officials toured the Expo with Chinese president Xi. Foreign affairs and trade minister Péter Szijjártó, innovation and technology minister László Palkovics, and agricultural minister István Nagy accompanied the Hungarian head of state.
Orban and other delegates met with representatives from Huawei to discuss the digitization of society, MTI reported.
Huawei also launched its largest production and logistics center outside of China in Hungary, in addition to investing $1.2 billion since 2005 and employing over 2,000 Hungarian nationals.
Huawei also signed the first business strategic partnership agreement with Hungary in 2013.
The two countries will sign partnerships in dairy, water management and innovative energy sectors on Tuesday, Orban said.