FM: EU will lose out if it sees China as its rival

The foreign minister said China has gained an advantage in many areas in recent years, so cooperation is required.

Speaking in Ningbo on Tuesday, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the European Union will lose out "if it sees China as its rival" because China has gained an advantage in many areas in recent years, so cooperation is required.
The designation of China as Hungary’s strategic partner “is not simply a matter of communication”, Minister Szijjártó said at the opening of a China-central Europe trade exhibition. “The Hungarian government takes this seriously, too,” the foreign ministry quoted him as saying. Minister Szijjártó noted that China’s GDP is now higher than that of the EU. While in 2010 China accounted for 9% of global GDP and the EU 22%, China’s share has increased to 18% and the EU’s has fallen to 17, he said. “This also shows that if the EU sees China as a rival, it will lose out … In recent years it has become obvious that China has a competitive advantage in a number of areas of the economy,” he said. “If the EU wants to profit from Chinese ties, mutual trust, respect and cooperation based on mutual benefits must be highlighted rather than rivalry,” he added. “Hungary does not see China as a risk or threat but as a state that brings much profit through cooperation,” he said. Szijjártó added that China was now Hungary’s largest trading partner outside Europe.

The foreign minister added that Hungary has now become the “number-one destination in central and eastern Europe for Chinese corporate investments”. Speaking at the opening of a China-central Europe trade exhibition, the minister added that Hungary had the most Confucius Institutes in the region and offered flights to the most destinations. Also, Hungary has the highest number of food export permits for China among countries of the region, he said, noting that after the coronavirus pandemic, Hungary was the first country where Chinese tourists reappeared. Chinese demand for healthy food products is on the increase and Hungary has a competitive edge in the EU in that area, he said, adding that the 23 Hungarian companies at the expo mostly represented the food industry. Szijjártó also pointed to the Hungarian government’s position against global tendencies of the world becoming divided into blocs again. “We support connectivity and welcome an East-West division of labour in key sectors of the economy … There is no point in divisions aimed at reducing risk,” he said, noting Hungary’s emerging role as a meeting point for Eastern battery technologies and Western car manufacturing.