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China Lambasts Budapest Mayor for Remarks at Protest Against Fudan

Hungary Today 2021.06.07.

The events surrounding the Chinese Fudan University campus in Budapest, including renaming the streets in its close vicinity and Saturday’s protest against its construction, have made waves in China as well. In the Chinese state media, Mayor Gergely Karácsony was outright called “anti-China,” while his speech at the demonstration was deemed an attack on the “Chinese political system and the development path chosen by the Chinese people” by the Chinese embassy in Budapest.

The designation of new street name signs near the planned Budapest campus of Fudan University are seen as  “provocative” to the Chinese, and have been met with disapproval in China.

Karácsony: Fudan University Issue Matter of Sovereignty
Karácsony: Fudan University Issue Matter of Sovereignty

"The Fudan issue is about whether this small country of 10 million can finally decide its own fate, about whether we will really be a free nation," Karácsony said at the demonstration.Continue reading

An editorial published Thursday evening in the online edition of the Chinese state media daily, Global Times, called Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony “anti-China” after he announced to rename streets in the vicinity where the Shanghai-based Fudan University plans to open its new campus. The new street names include “Dalai Lama Street,” and “Free Hong Kong Road,” referring to China’s human rights violations.

According to Chinese experts interviewed by the Global Times, the mayor is in fact trying to increase his political influence by “suggesting a Chinese threat.”

After the Saturday demonstration against the establishment of the Budapest campus of Fudan, the press spokesman from the Chinese Embassy in Hungary also lambasted Gergely Karácsony for his speech. According to the diplomat, the mayor’s remarks are “attacks on the Chinese political system and the development path chosen by the Chinese people.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Chinese diplomat who has been living in Hungary for almost a decade, criticized the key words in the Mayor’s speech, such as “Tiananmen Square protests,” “democracy,” “human rights,” and “values,” which in his view are “totally a smear against China.”

“In broad daylight, it is unseemly to criticize the internal affairs of another country,” he said.

“Although Mr. Mayor has repeatedly said that he did not target China or the Chinese people, all these words and actions sound like clear incitement of ideological antagonism and hostility when compared with the facts,” the press spokesman argued.

Later on Sunday, another statement was published on the Chinese Embassy’s website in Chinese, which was similar in content, but far more strongly worded.

According to the statement, the mayor’s speech was “… a serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a deliberate attempt to undermine the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two nations, which is incompatible with the trend of the era of mutually beneficial cooperation. We firmly protest, resolutely oppose and strongly condemn it,” the statement said.

In his response, Gergely Karácsony acknowledged that the press spokesman of the Chinese embassy considered his use of words like “democracy,” “rule of law,” and “human rights” as interference in their internal affairs.

”But because I believe in them, I will continue to use them,” Karácsony wrote on Facebook. According to the Budapest mayor, it is understandable when China acts in order to increase its own political and economic influence but it is unacceptable if the Hungarian government also serves the interests of China’s political and economic influence instead of Hungary’s.

”That is why I said: we were not demonstrating against the Chinese people, but against the sly selling out of Hungary’s sovereignty,” he wrote.

In the featured photo: Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony. Photo via Karácsony’s Facebook page.