Weekly newsletter

“The Fudan University affair is our first step in retaking Hungary from those in power,” Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said at a demonstration against the establishment of a local campus of China’s Fudan University in front of Parliament on Saturday.

Karácsony, who is running in the opposition’s prime ministerial primary, vowed to block the establishment of the Fudan University campus and to take action on any issue in which the government “favours the privileged 1 percent over the 99 percent”.

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

“The biggest problem in Hungary today are those in power who don’t have any moral goals,” the mayor said.

“The Fudan affair is [ruling] Fidesz’s final and complete moral suicide,” he said. He said this issue proved that “every word of theirs is a lie” and that “nothing is sacred to them”.

Ideology and Competition Key Issues Around Fudan University Budapest
Ideology and Competition Key Issues Around Fudan University Budapest

The ideological impact of Fudan University’s Budapest campus, as well as its potential to overpower Hungarian universities, are both key issues in Hungary’s current discourse. While the Trade Union Association of Intellectuals  (ÉSZT) warns about Hungarian universities falling into Fudan’s shadow, Minister of National Innovation and Technology László Palkovics says that the Chinese state-run university […]Continue reading

Karácsony said the issue around the Fudan University campus was about deciding whether “those who see politics as ruling rather than service should be allowed to rule Hungary”.

“Can the country have a government that only values power?” he said.

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

“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.

He said the issue around the university made it “crystal clear that when this government talks about national sovereignty, it’s actually talking about its own sovereignty and its free rein to steal”.

Hungary Alone Blocks EU’s Pro-Hongkong Stance Against China Once Again
Hungary Alone Blocks EU’s Pro-Hongkong Stance Against China Once Again

Foreign Minister Szijjártó previously described sanctions against China over human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority group as “pointless, self-aggrandizing and harmful.”Continue reading

The mayor also criticised the government for refusing to take out a loan offered as part of the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery package, saying that they did not want to go into debt. “But they’ll go into debt whenever they have to . for Russian or Chinese interests,” he added.

Karácsony emphasised that the demonstration was not against China or the Chinese people, “although we are a world apart when it comes to human rights and democracy”.

“But we have our own problem with dictators,” he added.

Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

The mayor said the demonstration had been organised in favour of the student quarter that was planned to be built in the same area as the Fudan University campus and against building a Chinese university from taxpayer money.

Karácsony urged the public to participate in a consultation on the Fudan University project and the opposition’s primary election, and to support the eventual nominees in the 2022 general election.

'Free Hongkong,' 'Uyghur Martyrs:' 9th District Mayor to Rename Streets in Protest Against Fudan
'Free Hongkong,' 'Uyghur Martyrs:' 9th District Mayor to Rename Streets in Protest Against Fudan

Opposition to the Chinese university's arrival hasn't been toned down in recent days.Continue reading

Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of Budapest’s 9th district, where the campus would be built, called the project a “private business venture funded by public money”. She said her district wanted to build the student quarter meant to help Hungarian students coming from outside the capital who are in need of affordable housing. “China is even building its own Trojan horse using our money,” she said.

András Jámbor, the organiser of the protest and an opposition MP candidate, said it would take “many tiny steps” to block the establishment of the university which he said was “unlikely to have any Hungarian students”. He vowed to prevent the government from scrapping the student quarter project.

András Jámbor. Photo via Párbeszéd’s Facebook page

Áron Bereczki of the Students’ Union said the university would “send the country into debt” and “only serves the interests of the elite”.

“For us, the elite university is an illusion, because our reality is the crisis raging in Hungary,” he said.

Chinese Spokesman Says Fudan Streets Renaming Protest "Beneath Contempt"
Chinese Spokesman Says Fudan Streets Renaming Protest

The Foreign Ministry said that Hungarian opposition politicians are "hyping up China-related issues and hindering China-Hungary cooperation."Continue reading

The protesters gathered between Kodály Körönd and Heroes’ Square before making their way to Kossuth Square. The middle of the square was occupied by those with Covid-19 immunity certificates, while those without were cordoned off on the side of the square. Several opposition politicians also joined the demonstration.

Featured photo via Gergely Karácsony’s Facebook page