'New starting point' for 75-year ties

2024-05-11 08:20:16China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

When President Xi Jinping arrived at Budapest Airport on Wednesday night for a state visit to Hungary, he received a bouquet of flowers from Tamara Olah, a 21-year-old woman who had presented him with flowers 15 years ago during the then vice-president's trip to the country.

"She was only 6 years old back then, and now she has become a young woman. It was touching to me because her growth from a child to a beautiful young woman symbolizes the growth of the friendship between China and Hungary," Xi said during talks with Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok on Thursday.

The friendship became even more mature on Thursday as the two countries decided to elevate their ties to new heights into an all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership for the new era.

Speaking at a farewell ceremony held by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday, Xi said that he and Orban have fully conducted in-depth communication and reached many important consensuses during the trip, although it was not long enough.

"I look forward to maintaining close communication with Prime Minister Orban and guiding our two countries to carry forward our friendship and translate the consensuses into tangible cooperation results to continuously benefit the two peoples," Xi said.

After briefing the Chinese president about the history and development of Budapest, Orban said Chinese enterprises have made important contributions to his country's economic development and the city's construction.

Many projects with the participation of Chinese contractors have become flagships of cooperation and symbols of friendship between the two countries, he said.

Hungary expects to carry out more cooperation with China and introduce more advanced technologies from China in order to facilitate the country's development and the well-being of its people, Orban said.

Hungary is the first European country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China. Bilateral trade between the two countries has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years. Last year, their total trade volume exceeded $13 billion, according to Hungarian data.

Xi said both sides agreed that the Belt and Road Initiative and Hungary's Eastern Opening policy are highly compatible.

"We will connect our development strategies more closely, deepen economic, trade, investment and financial cooperation, and advance the Budapest-Belgrade railway and other key projects," he said.

Xi also said that China and Hungary will expand cooperation in emerging industries and foster new quality productive forces to empower and facilitate the economic and social development of the two countries.

"The relationship is now at its best in history," he said, noting that he has full confidence in the future of bilateral ties after concluding "friendly and productive talks" with Orban on Thursday.

Orban said that the success of China-Hungary relations proves that large and small countries can respect each other and cooperate for mutual benefit.

He rejected rhetoric about China's so-called "overcapacity" or attempts at "de-risking", saying that Hungary is committed to deepening cooperation with China, and it is undeterred by any external influences. China's development is an opportunity, not a risk, for Europe, Orban stressed.

After their talks, Xi and Orban witnessed the signing of 18 documents, as outcomes of the visit, to deepen cooperation in areas including Belt and Road projects, scientific and technological cooperation and nuclear energy.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday it is important that there will be common projects between the two countries in the field of road and railway transportation, as well as energy infrastructure.

"I think it's great news that we have extended our relationship to the field of nuclear energy, which has not been the case so far," he said, noting that the best way to generate electricity for the huge demand in the future in a cheap, safe and effective way is through nuclear power.

Szijjarto said the newly established all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership for the new era between the two countries is an honor for Hungary.

"I think it reflects the rightfulness of our China policy. We are among those countries in Europe, which consider the cooperation with China as an opportunity and not as a risk," he said, adding that Hungary rejects de-risking, decoupling and all kinds of such approaches.


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