July 25, 2021

In Budapest, the mayor renames streets to oppose the Chinese campus project

“Avenue of the Dalai Lama”, “Avenue of the Uighur Martyrs”, “Free Hongkong Avenue”, “Avenue de [l’évêque clandestin] Xie Shiguang ”… Prospective Chinese students on the campus of Fudan University in Budapest may experience a cold sweat when they indicate their address. To mark his opposition to the gigantic and highly contested project defended by the Hungarian nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban, the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karacsony, indeed announced on Wednesday June 2 his intention to rename all the streets surrounding the site of the future establishment.

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“When we name public spaces after victims of the Chinese state, we do not only defend them, but we also defend the ideals of freedom and solidarity”, explained the city councilor, in front of the land where the buildings will be erected.

At the head of the Hungarian capital since 2019, this environmentalist has also been a candidate for the sole opposition primary, intended to try to beat Viktor Orban in the legislative elections of 2022. And he has obviously decided to make this project campus, intended to accommodate nearly 6,000 students and 500 teachers in the south of the city, a springboard for his candidacy, saying that he would prefer to build a residence for Hungarian students.

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Chinese loan to repay

By 2024, the government wants to open on this land of more than 130 hectares what will be the largest Chinese campus ever erected in Europe. Dubbed “Fudan Hungary University”, it will be attached to this Shanghai-based university. It will mark Viktor Orban’s proximity to Chinese power, which the Magyar Prime Minister systematically spares and from whom he has ordered several million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine in recent months.

Hungary has also already announced that it wants to build a railway line with the help of Beijing and even plans to produce Chinese vaccines in its factories soon.

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Referring to “Fudan Hungary University”, the Minister of Innovation and Technology, Laszlo Palkovics, defended a program that “Will benefit Hungary and China”.

In this regard, the project, the financial outlines of which have been revealed by the investigation site Direkt36 in April, however, seems to be especially favorable to Beijing. Estimated at 1.5 billion euros, the campus will be financed largely by a Chinese loan of 1.3 billion euros that the Hungarians will have to fully repay. Despite this, Chinese companies and workers will be responsible for building it.

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