Statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after his talks with Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China

9 May 2024, Budapest

Good afternoon. I welcome you with respect, Ladies and Gentlemen.                                                                             

It is a great honour for us to welcome the President of the People’s Republic of China, President Xi Jinping, who is making an official visit to our country on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Twenty years have passed since a President of China last visited Hungary. It was a very different world then, and perhaps we did not realise how much change could take place in the subsequent two decades. We have emerged from a pandemic that has claimed millions of lives. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the President for the crucial help he provided to us in that huge emergency – help which saved the lives of a great number Hungarians. For two years we have been living in the shadow of war, and never has the risk of an international war – even a world war – been as great as it is now. Looking back at the world economy and world trade as it was twenty years ago, back then it was nothing like that which we live with today. Then we were living in a unipolar world order, and now we live in a multipolar world order – and one of the structural pillars of this new world order is the People’s Republic of China. It is the country that is now determining the course of world economic and political developments. Hungary has always enjoyed friendly relations with China, based on solid political foundations. We have always honoured the “One China” principle, we have always stood on the basis of mutual respect, and we have always regarded China as a friendly country – indeed the wheels of history have never turned such that the two countries have come into conflict. Chinese-Hungarian cooperation is a story of long decades of uninterrupted friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The President’s visit is particularly needed at a time when war is raging in our neighbourhood, and when the world is debating whether to continue this war or instead make efforts leading towards peace. Our voice, the voice of Hungary, is a lone voice in Europe. Today Europe stands on the side of war, the only exception being Hungary, which is calling for an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations, and supporting all international efforts aimed at peace – including the Chinese peace initiative presented by President Xi Jinping. We Hungarians are convinced that there is no solution to this conflict, to this war, on the battlefield. On the battlefield there is only death and destruction. We are convinced that the solution can be found at the negotiating table: there must be a ceasefire and peace negotiations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If we compare the economic relations between our two countries with their condition twenty years ago, we see that at the time of the last Chinese presidential visit the value of our trade was 3 billion dollars, and now it is 12 billion dollars: four times as much. Back then there was only one passenger air route between the two countries, and now seven major cities can be reached directly from Budapest. Back then the two countries spoke of friendly cooperation that did not involve any commitment beyond gestures; today, however, our joint statement with the President speaks of a strategic partnership, an “all-weather partnership”, as they say. It is an honour and a great opportunity for Hungary that China has invited us to participate in the Chinese economy and to play a role in the modernisation of the Chinese economy; and it is a great opportunity for us that China is willing to participate in the development and modernisation of the Hungarian economy. Twenty years ago you could not find Chinese investment in Hungary unless you used a magnifying glass. Now I can say that last year three quarters of all investment arriving in Hungary came from China, and at the moment Chinese investment in Hungary amounts to 6,400 billion forints. Your investments, Honourable President, provide tens of thousands of people with jobs and secure and predictable livelihoods. Of course we are competing for these investments, because Chinese companies decide where to make their investments in a competitive environment, and we Hungarians are proud to be able to take part in this competition. Here I would also like to assure the President that Hungary will continue to provide fair and equitable conditions for Chinese companies investing in Hungary, and we will create the opportunity for the most modern Western technology to be able to meet and develop cooperation in Hungary with the most modern Eastern technology.

Mr. President,

The Hungarians have serious ambitions. The previous hundred years, the twentieth century, was a shameful one for Hungary. It was a century in which we lost, a century in which we suffered extremely heavy losses of historic proportions. And the concept driving the Hungarians is that we want to win the twenty-first century, and not lose it. And to win we need partners, investors, trading partners and the world’s most advanced technology.

Honourable President,

Hungary wants to bring the best technology here to our country, and today there are areas in which China is the best in the world – and in some areas it is streets ahead of everyone else. This is why we thank you and your delegation, Mr. President, for your support for economic cooperation which brings to Hungary the world’s best and most modern technologies in the fields of electromobility, the railway industry and the IT sector. Thank you for creation of the investment cooperation agreement. Thank you for the agreement to export new agricultural and food products to your country. And I will make special mention of something which is not only an economic fact, but also an expression of confidence: the fact that we can extend our cooperation to the whole spectrum of the nuclear industry, where up until now there has been no cooperation between our two countries. This holds great potential, because in this respect – in terms of the nuclear industry – Hungary has considerable international experience and prestige, as we have been involved in this industry for more than fifty years, and currently the largest nuclear development in Europe is taking place in Hungary. Our plan is that by the beginning of the next decade the share of Hungary’s energy provided by nuclear power will be between 60 and 70 per cent. 

Honourable President,

I thank you here in public for inviting us to Xiamen as Guest of Honour at the China International Fair for Investment and Trade, to which Hungary will go and do its best to show what we are capable of.

Thank you again, Mr. President, for your visit. Thank you for coming to visit us, and thank you in particular for the steps that the People’s Republic of China is taking to bring about peace.