Hungary serves as a key element in Chinese-European cooperation, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Ji said at a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó on Tuesday in Beijing. He expressed his hope that this will remain so in the future.

“The Chinese-Central European and Chinese-Eastern European regional cooperation is of utmost importance for China and they really appreciate that Hungary acts as a flagship in these relations”, Péter Szijjártó said to MTI about his negotiation with his counterpart in Beijing.

In the Central European region Hungary has attracted the most Chinese investment, approximately USD 3.5 billion, and according to the Chinese minister in the near future foreign investments of Chinese companies will accelerate and Central Europe will definitely be a beneficiary of this wave. Wang Ji also emphasised that the Hungarian government’s “Opening to the East” policy and the Chinese “Economic silk road” concept reinforce each other. The Hungarian minister added that Hungary offers one of the best transit options for Chinese exports to Europe.

According to the minister, it has become clear throughout the negotiations that the aims of the Hungarian and the Chinese governments in their bilateral economic relations are in harmony with each other. As he put it “we would like Chinese companies coming to Europe to consider Hungary as their base and also Hungary to become the main transit route of Chinese goods intended for the European market in the long run. It seems that our Chinese partners are not against this idea”.

Péter Szijjártó noted that Hungary has established the first centre for regional tourism cooperation with China, and the Hungarian Eximbank was the only bank that contributed USD 30 million to the USD 500 million Central European Fund established by China.

“This is a funding source of nearly USD 100 million opening for us”, he noted. Between 2003 and 2013, there was a six fold increase in the value of trade: last year Hungary’s exports to China achieved a record-breaking USD 2 billion, compared to which there was an eight per cent increase in the first seven months of this year on an annual basis.

The parties reviewed the most important developments in international security policy and China was assured that Hungary is interested in the peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict. Wang Ji also confirmed that it is his country’s interest that Europe could be considered as a stable partner, Péter Szijjártó said.

According to Hungarian diplomats, it’s clearly a sign of special attention towards Hungary that the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade was invited to China shortly after his inauguration, within less than a month, and they also consider it indicative that the ministers’ Tuesday midday programme was half an hour longer, lasting two and a half hours in the end.

Péter Szijjártó had negotiations in the Chinese department for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine where a long awaited announcement was scheduled to his visit.

The minister also noted that Hungarian agricultural and food exports have exceptional opportunities: the road for Hungarian pork, goose, duck and rabbit meat is now open, adding that four Hungarian companies have already received export permission, and two more permits are pending.

Besides that, Péter Szijjártó emphasised that the main obstacle to exporting raw beef has essentially been removed and the relating documents will be signed when the Hungarian Minister of Rural Development visits China in November. Chang Chen Pu, deputy director of the department, also emphasised that Hungary has exceptionally great number of such permits.

During the Hungarian minister’s negotiations with Deputy Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, who is also co-president of the Joint Chinese-Hungarian Economic Committee, the parties discussed a number of current issues and agreed that the launch of direct air services is in the interest of both parties, and negotiations should be accelerated to reach this goal. In reply to a question regarding outstanding issues to be agreed on, the minister said that first of all, the initial profitability of the air service must be clarified. Further clarifications regarding technical questions may follow.

A number of contracts and documents were signed in connection with the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Leaders of the Chinese and the Hungarian Eximbank signed an agreement in the building of the Hungarian Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, according to which the joint credit line, set up for funding joint investments or  Hungarian exports to China, will be expanded from EUR 200 million to EUR 300 million.

In the cooperation of the University of Pécs and the Hebei United University the fourth Confucius Institute will be founded in Hungary, which, besides the dissemination of Chinese culture, aims to promote traditional Chinese medicine, dating back thousands of years.

IT giant Huawei “put it in writing” at a ceremony on Tuesday that it would donate USD 25 000 for the Research & Development activities of the University of Public Administration. The donation was scheduled to the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Hungary. At the reception organised on the occasion, Péter Szijjártó made a welcome speech for the large number of invitees present.

In his company, there were Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Chao and Hungary’s Ambassador to Beijing Cecília Szilas.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)