Once again, Hungary has decided to block the European Union’s proposed statement accusing China of suppressing democracy in Hong Kong, reports Politico. The Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrel, stated that if the third attempt for joint action feels, Europe will “take positions that don’t reflect unanimity.” Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade Péter Szijjártó told state media on Tuesday that the EU had already made multiple decisions on China “without anything to show for it,” another one would not make a difference.
The foreign ministers of Europe have been unable to agree on a statement that would show solidarity with Hong Kong without facing a veto from Hungary. Viktor Orbán’s government had already opposed the first EU statement in mid-April, and while this version was allegedly more “watered down,” it was still shut down.
EU Diplomats: Cohesion Is the Union’s Strength
German foreign minister Heiko Maas described the Hungarian government’s decision not to support Hong Kong as “absolutely incomprehensible.” He believes that cohesion would lead to a more effective strategy for the EU on China in handling issues such as its treatment of Hong Kong and its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
It is important that especially toward China — after the sanctions that have been imposed and also after the sanctioning of EU parliamentarians — the European Union speaks with one voice. Unfortunately, this has been prevented by Hungary.”
Maas attributed Hungary’s decision to its economic and diplomatic ties with the Chinese Communist Party.
The union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrel, stated that he wants to make one last attempt to reach consensus on the issue within the EU. He stated that if the next attempt fails as well, then “we have to take positions that don’t reflect unanimity.”
All European Union members can veto the union’s joint action regardless of whether a majority supports it or not. If a country disagrees with an approach, it can stop all of 26 other countries from finalizing negotiations.
Hungary Won’t Oppose China, Emphasizes Support
Hungary has recently emphasized its support for China, and it would be difficult for it to now stand against Beijing. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó has previously described sanctions against China over human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority group as “pointless, self-aggrandizing and harmful.”
Now the minister told state media that the EU has issued a statement or taken decisions on China eight times so far “without anything to show for it.” A ninth statement would have been “pointless,” he said.
It is also not beneficial for the Hungarian government to begin acting against China when it has just this year confirmed the construction of Fudan University’s Budapest campus.
Viktor Orbán also spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to the second veto, allegedly announcing that Hungary “attaches great importance to its relations with China.” According to China’s foreign ministry, Xi stated that China appreciates Hungary’s “firm adherence to a friendly policy towards China.”
Featured photo illustration by Mitko Sztojcsev/MTI/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade