June 07. 2021. – 04:24 PM
Thousands of people gathered in Budapest on Saturday to protest the government's plan to build the Chinese Fudan University's campus in Budapest in the area where the municipality planned to build a student town to offer affordable housing to university students.
As we reported earlier, the construction of Fudan's Hungarian campus will be financed by a 450 billion Forint (~€1.25 billion) loan from China and executed by Chinese companies. The Hungarian government had already promised to give over one of the most valuable development lots of Budapest to the university – the one where the municipality was planning to construct a student district. Many in the opposition also voiced concerns that the university cooperates with intelligence agencies in China.
Since our previous English article on the topic, the Mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony, and the Mayor of the IX District, Krisztina Baranyi have renamed streets surrounding the proposed area of the Fudan campus to "Dalai Lama Road," "Uyghur Martyrs' Road," "Bishop Xie Shiguang Road," and "Free Hong Kong Road," an act which China described as "beneath contempt."
Saturday's protest, the first one after an over six-month ban on gatherings introduced over Covid-19, remained peaceful as demonstrators marched from Heroes' Square to the Parliament, with known faces of the opposition alliance and representatives of all its parties present in the crowd. We went to the protest to ask people what their problems are with the Budapest campus of Fudan University:
This video has English subtitles. If you can't see them, turn them on in the video settings.
After the protest, the Chinese Embassy issued a statement in response to the speech of Budapest mayor and opposition prime ministerial candidate Gergely Karácsony:
"In broad daylight, it is unseemly to criticize the internal affairs of another country."
The Embassy condemned Karácsony's mentions of the Tiananmen Square protests, democracy, and human rights, describing them as "groundless and a smear of China," adding that even though Karácsony said that he was not targeting China or the Chinese people, "these words and actions sound like clear incitement of ideological antagonism and hostility when compared with the facts." They considered it as an attack on the Chinese political system.
In his response to the Embassy's statement, Karácsony wrote:
"I acknowledge that the press officer of the Chinese embassy interprets the use of such words as »democracy,«️ »rule of law,«️ and » human rights«️ as interference with his country's internal affairs. However, as I believe in these, I am going to keep on using these words in the future."
The Mayor thinks that it is understandable that "China acts in the interest of expanding its political and economic influence; what is unacceptable is that the Hungarian government serves these interests instead of Hungary's own."