Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó has become the first foreign minister from the European Union to visit China since the outbreak of COVID-19. He met with his counterpart, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, in southwest China’s region of Guangxi on Monday. He speaks to Yang Chengxi about the goal of his visit.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade “We have always attached a great significance to our cooperation with China. And during the pandemic, it became obvious that we made the right choice and the right decision. The pandemic slowed down the relationship. I have to say, obviously. Now we would like to restart it. So the main reason of my visit was to make an agreement about how and when and to what schedule to restart the relationship between the two countries. And I can tell you that we have made a very good agreement with state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi, based on which now we can restart the whole economic cooperation.”
YANG CHENGXI Beihai, Guangxi “China and Hungary established comprehensive strategic partnership in 2017. What’s your overall take on how the two countries’ ties have developed?”
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade “Actually, we have started a new foreign policy strategy back in 2010 when we have entered office, which we call the opening towards the east. And I can tell you that since then we have strengthened our economic relationship in a way that currently the total stock of Chinese investments into Hungary has exceeded the $5-billion mark regarding our trade. I can tell you that China became the number two source of imports from Hungary. We would like to develop our cooperation on field of logistics. We just started to modernize the railway line between Belgrade, which is the Serbian capital, and Budapest, which is the Hungarian capital, in order to provide the quickest possible delivery route for Chinese goods ship to Greek ports, and intended to be delivered to other western part of Europe. We have a plan to further develop the financial cooperation through Hungarian central bank and the people’s bank of China. Recently, these two financial institutions signed an agreement on currency swap. This is something that we would like to broaden and extent, we are happy that the China development bank is now opening a new branch office with which there will be four big Chinese financial institutions being present physically. And when it comes to international politics, we are true friends to each other. Hungary is in favor of mutual respect. When it comes to international politics. We give the respect to our partners. But in the meantime, with a good reason, I think we expect to be respected as well.”
YANG CHENGXI Beihai, Guangxi “You’ve remained open to Huawei participating in Hungary’s 5G networks. So what is your take on the accusations out there over Information security against Huawei?”
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade “I have three short points here. First, that in Hungary there’s no diversification or no differentiation among the companies based on nationality. If you respect the rules and regulations, you’re fine. If you don’t, then you have to count with the consequences. Second, that we are strong enough to protect our national interest. We are not afraid of companies. If we understand that a company wants to act against our national security interest, then we get rid of the company. But we are strong enough to make this decision on our own. And third, it’s very interesting that currently, recently the United Kingdom made a decision which was harmful to Huawei. Let’s put it this way. But Vodafone, which is a British company, has contracted Huawei in Budapest in Hungary to construct the physical infrastructure for Vodafone 5G network in Budapest. Then what should I do as a representative of small central European country, when a big British company contracts Huawei to make a job in Hungary? So when Huawei is active in Hungary is not because of the Hungarian government being active. And that is because the western European telecommunications companies task Huawei to execute some job for them. So once again, in Hungary, companies are free to operate as long as they respect the rules and regulations in the country. And as long as they do not harm the national security interests.”
For the video interview, please click here.