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Sat. May 25th, 2024

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will host Chinese President Xi Jinping in Budapest on Thursday in a bid to strengthen already flourishing ties between Beijing and its closest EU ally.

The state visit to Hungary is the last leg of Xi’s European tour, his first since 2019.

Earlier this week, the Chinese leader kicked off his trip in France, a visit that was cordial but also highlighted tensions between Beijing and the EU over the war in Ukraine and global trade. 

After visiting non-EU partner Serbia, Xi arrived in Budapest on Wednesday evening.

In an op-ed published in Hungary’s pro-government Magyar Nemzet daily ahead of his arrival in Budapest, Xi praised a “long-standing friendship” he described “as mellow and rich as Tokaji wine”, referring to the renowned Hungarian vineyards region.

“We have gone through hardships together and defied power politics together amid volatile international situations.

“Our bilateral relationship is at its best in history, and has embarked on a golden voyage… On the new journey of the new era, China looks forward to working closely with our Hungarian friends,” he wrote.

Frequently at loggerheads with Brussels, Orban has been advocating an “Eastern opening” foreign policy since his return to power in 2010, seeking closer economic ties to China, Russia and other Asian countries.

The nationalist premier remained committed to his strategy even as tensions between Western nations and Beijing increased over human rights violations, the Covid pandemic, trade and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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