FM: High-level cooperation with China is key to competitiveness of Europe and Hungary

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has warned against severing economic ties between Europe and China.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said high-level cooperation with China is key to the competitiveness of Europe and Hungary, and severing those ties would have tragic consequences.

Following talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing, the foreign minister said the main topic of the talks with Wang Yi was the war in Ukraine, and ways to end it, Minister Szijjártó said. He thanked China for its “extremely active role in the peace effort”. China’s peace plan is the closest to Hungary’s concept on the matter, as “it admits that the conflict cannot be solved on the battlefield,” he said. Like Hungary, the Chinese peace plan posits that the longer the war rages, the worse the chances for peace, he said. While Europe is gripped by a “war psychosis”, the majority of the world wants peace in Ukraine, he said. Minister Szijjártó also touched on the “extremely worrisome” situation in Israel, and warned that unless an escalation can be avoided, the conflict could lead to “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in human history”. Szijjártó and Wang also discussed the two countries’ economic ties. Hungary’s economy would struggle to “remain on a growth path” without Chinese investments, Szijjártó said. Hungary is expected to double last year’s investment record of 6.5 billion euros, with much of those investments coming from Chinese companies, he said. Hungary, a meeting point of Western and Eastern investments, has manufacturing sites of the three largest German carmakers, and soon five of the 10 largest battery makers in the world, he said. Those investments ensure economic growth and prevent mass job losses, he added. The revamping of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line is the flagship of Hungarian-Chinese cooperation, and will put Hungary in a leading position in moving goods from Greek ports to Europe, he said. The upgrade will be ready by 2025, he added. Minister Szijjártó also warned against severing the economic ties between Europe and China. Those with Russia “were severed one by one in the past 18 months, despite the fact that they were the foundation of economic growth,” he said. The European economy would not be competitive without cooperation with China, and severing those ties would be “tragic and contrary to Hungarian interests”, he said. “Hungary will reject and obstruct all unreasonable proposals that would limit or sever Chinese-European cooperation; we will not support tariffs or other obstructions on the Chinese electric car industry, and we will resist the pressure from Western Europe to cut back economic cooperation with China. “Any other approach would mean that we could create fewer jobs and couldn’t guarantee this degree of economic growth,” he said.