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Opposition Candidates Promise to Stop Fudan and Budapest-Belgrade Railway Once in Power

Ábrahám Vass 2021.06.23.

Hungarian taxpayers do not want the Chinese loan of hundreds of billions of forints, and in the event of a government change, each of the opposition prime ministerial candidates will immediately stop both the Budapest-Belgrade railway and Fudan University projects, the opposition Prime Ministerial candidates wrote to the President of the People’s Republic of China.

The idea of the candidates’ joint letter was made up by Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony amid the tense debate about the government-backed arrival of China’s Fudan university.

While the governmental forces point out that the University is among the best worldwide, many criticize the project. According to the main points of criticism, the costly project would be paid entirely by Hungarian taxpayers (Hungary would take out a loan from China), and its costs would be higher than the yearly state financing of Hungary’s whole higher education sector. In addition, tuition fees would be very high for Hungarian pockets while the project’s overseer would be a Chinese firm, previously suspected of corruption and unlawful surveillance a number of times.

China and the Communist Party’s involvement is also a matter of debate, but the latest and loudest criticism has centered around Fudan’s occupation of space at the expense of the large-scale Student City project (which would provide accommodation and accompanying infrastructure to 8,000 students).

As a result, the project is highly divisive, and the opposition alliance have taken a firm stance in the matter. China-critical street renamings, and a large demonstration have all been on the menu lately. Despite that, the government promised consultation and a referendum on the project and say that a public debate is not yet relevant due to the lack of information, it still voted in the law that describes the project in legal terms (while the allied opposition stayed away).

The Budapest-Belgrade railway, which will focus on cargo shipments and won’t be available for passengers, is a similarly-debated topic with critics saying that it only serves China’s interests, and while Hungary would pay for most of it, its financial return is also questionable.

So this joint letter (signed by DK’s Klára Dobrev, Momentum’s András Fekete-Győr, Jobbik’s Péter Jakab, Párbeszéd’s Gergely Karácsony, independents Péter Márki-Zay and József Pálinkás) is the latest move in the debate. It claims that despite the differences between the political-social systems of the countries, they will strive to continue cooperation in issues with a common interest.

However, they believe that in a European parliamentary democracy, a prior, broad consensus is essential behind such a large-scale investment for the current government to be able to legitimately assume a commitment that goes beyond its term in office. In their view, however, both projects lack any such accord.

“The preparation of the two investments is opaque, surrounded by the Hungarian government’s secrecy; moreover, representatives of the current Hungarian government’s economic clique have already appeared around the more advanced railway investment.”

Consequently, they informed China’s leadership that in the event of a change of government, whoever becomes the new prime minister among them, he/she will stop both projects immediately and renounce the loan. Nevertheless, they are confident that the current Hungarian government’s wrong steps and their consequences won’t hinder the development of the “multi-threaded and traditionally good” relationship between China and Hungary.

Under the Orbán government, Hungary’s sovereignty hasn’t strengthened, but rather “severely and sinfully” weakened after becoming dependent on powers like China, Karácsony additionally commented on the occasion of the publication.

featured photo: one of Gergely Karácsony’s earlier press conferences at the potential, future site of Fudan and the Student City; via Facebook