Viktor Orban’s strategic rapprochement with China – L’Express

Viktor Orbans strategic rapprochement with China – LExpress

Viktor Orban continues his walk alone. The only leader of the European Union to have maintained links with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the last country blocking Sweden’s entry into NATO, the Prime Minister this time received in Budapest this Friday, February 16 in Budapest a prominent member of the Chinese government.

The objectives of this meeting between Viktor Orban and Wang Xiaohong, Chinese Minister of Public Security and high-ranking state advisor to Xi Jinping, were developed by the official Beijing press agency, Xinhua. “Hungary is ready to deepen its friendship with China,” declared the Hungarian Prime Minister, assuring that “Hungary and China have always respected each other, treated each other as equals, and supported each other’s fundamental interests and their major concerns. For his part, the Chinese minister welcomed the “tradition of friendship” maintained between Budapest and Beijing, “partners capable of overcoming challenges”.

The new Silk Roads at the heart of the discussions

But this meeting was not just about repeating diplomatic appeals. Chinese Minister Wang Xiaohong said he hoped to “deepen cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism or combating transnational crime.” The objective would be to “make cooperation in law enforcement and security a new strong point in bilateral relations” between the two countries, he continues. Thus, during his stay in Hungary, Wang Xiaohong also signed documents on security cooperation with Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported..

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Additional security links which target in particular a crucial subject: the new Silk Roads, this gigantic plan of Chinese investments throughout the world in order to transport its goods and develop its influence, described as the “project of the century” by Xi Jinping.

Hungary is a key partner of the “Belt and Road initiative” (the official name defined by Beijing). It was the first European country to sign a cooperation agreement with China on this subject in 2015. With its sights set, in particular, on a Budapest – Belgrade railway line, aimed at increasing the transport of Chinese goods in Europe from tenfold. ‘East, and obviously largely financed by Beijing.

Away from international bodies

Statements which come as Hungary continues to be sidelined by Western international bodies. There are obviously the very ambiguous relations maintained between Viktor Orban and Vladimir Putin, which have further deteriorated Budapest’s relations with the other member states of the European Union. With the culmination of the Hungarian veto at the end of 2023 on the more than 50 billion euros in European aid to Ukraine, finally overcome at the start of the year at the cost of long negotiations. Not enough to sway Orban: this Saturday, the Hungarian Prime Minister once again repeated that the European aid policy for Ukraine had “failed spectacularly”.

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The Hungarian Prime Minister’s permanent opposition does not stop in Brussels. Within NATO too, Viktor Orban is acting up. Hungary is thus the last country in the Alliance to still not have ratified Sweden’s membership. First making Stockholm pay for its positions denouncing Budapest’s authoritarian drift and its complacency with Putin, Viktor Orban now assures that he will indeed sign Swedish accession. But without ever taking the plunge, enough to exasperate the NATO countries.

A group of American senators snubbed

This accumulation of decisions from Budapest, already perceived as a provocation by Washington, materialized in an even more spectacular way this weekend. While a group of American senators traveled to Budapest to meet the Hungarian government on the subject of NATO, they were quite simply… snubbed. “I am disappointed to say that no one from the government wanted to meet with us while we were here,” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, co-chair of the NATO observer group, said at a press conference on Sunday. in the American upper house. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy described this behavior as “strange and disturbing”.

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Viktor Orban is obviously much closer to Donald Trump than to Joe Biden. He even maintains a great friendship with the first, developed since his stay at the White House: that of those marginalized by choice. But snubbing the United States to receive China in grand style is not a gesture that will be easily forgotten in Washington.