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Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Hungary, final stop of his European tour

The Chinese leader is expected to consolidate several agreements with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, strengthening Beijing’s economic presence in the region.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hungary on Wednesday, marking the end of his five-day European tour.

His visit is expected to consolidate numerous agreements with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, strengthening China’s regional economic influence.

This contrasts with the position of other EU countries, which are seeking to reduce their dependence on the world’s second-largest economy.

During his visit to Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen urged Xi Jinping to promote more balanced trade with Europe and use his influence on Russia to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

Scheduled to spend two nights in Budapest, Xi will meet with Orbán and Hungarian President Tamás Sulyok to discuss potential Chinese investments in Hungary.

Despite the protective measures taken by major European leaders against China, Budapest has actively maintained its economic ties with Beijing. Besides trade and investment, China has offered Hungary cooperation in public security and law enforcement, as reported by the official Xinhua news agency.

Orbán, known for his nationalist-populist policies, has positioned Hungary as the first country in the European bloc to commit to Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Budapest’s diplomatic and trade ties with autocratic governments outside the EU and NATO underscore its balance between regional alliances and economic partnerships, observers say.

Ahead of Xi’s visit, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced plans to sign at least 16 bilateral agreements, highlighting the historic significance of Xi’s inaugural visit to Hungary as president.

The deals could involve the expansion of the Belt and Road, potentially encompassing investments in infrastructure and energy.

Szijjártó highlighted that China will be the largest foreign investor in Hungary in 2023.

Xi’s arrival in Budapest follows his visit to Belgrade, where he struck a deal emphasizing a “shared future” with Serbia, another country seen as friendly to Russia.

Although China claims neutrality in the Ukraine conflict, it has refrained from characterizing Russia’s actions as an invasion, being criticized for allegedly boosting Russian military capabilities.

Hungary, although it condemned the invasion, resisted EU sanctions against Moscow and refrained from providing military support to kyiv.

Xi and Orbán are expected to discuss the Ukraine crisis, given Hungary’s proximity to the conflict zone.

Hungary has urged China to play a leading role in facilitating peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, approving a peace plan proposed by China.