The time has come for elevating cooperation between Central-Europe and China to a higher level, the level of strategic partnership, and this could take place next year, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the conference Dialogue Between China and the Central-Eastern-European Political Parties held on Thursday in Budapest.

The Prime Minister highlighted in his speech: Central-Europe and China have a vested interest in one another’s success. One must accept that humanity cannot be successful without its largest country being successful, he pointed out. He added: Central-Europe is a big hope of the future, Europe’s most dynamically developing region.

Hungary continues to remain committed to cooperation between China and Central-Europe, and the rebuilding of the Silk Road. To this end, it is necessary to build the section of the road which connects this region with China, and we need economic cooperation which guarantees the flow of goods on this route, Mr Orbán said. He pointed out that it is in this spirit that they are building the Budapest-Belgrade railway line together with the Chinese.

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The Prime Minister said: it is an honour that one of the world’s most intensively developing economies, the Chinese economy is interested in the Central-European region. He stressed at the same time: Hungary does not accept restrictions of any kind regarding cooperation between China and the Central-European region. The Hungarian Government is convinced that whatever is good for China and Central-Europe also serves the best interests of the European Union, he said.

In his lecture, he pointed out that connecting together „the world’s strongest economic power centre at this point in time”, that is China, and „Europe’s prospective – or perhaps already current – growth hub”, that is, Central-Europe is an important goal. He remarked that if the economic performance of the Central-European countries were removed from the total European economic performance, there would be no growth on the continent today, but only stagnation. It is now obvious, Mr Orbán said, that the world economy’s centre of gravity is shifting from West to East, and from the Atlantic region to the Pacific region.

Regarding inter-party relations, he said: „we must understand one another without the need for the other changing itself”. This is not in harmony with the conventional western way of thinking, he indicated, as according to that approach, the West represents a superior ideal, and expects the other regions of the world, too, to accept the international doctrines on this. Hungary is, however, not a fan of „the exportation of different political and economic regimes”, the Prime Minister stated who believes that each nation has its own character which is embodied in a unique political system.

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„This should be respected. Therefore, we for our part look upon the Chinese political regime in that light as well. The Chinese political regime is the Chinese people’s business, the same way as Hungary’s political regime is the Hungarian people’s business”, he said, adding that no one has the right to interfere with this as some kind of „self-nominated umpire”. In the context of Hungarian-Chinese economic relations, he drew attention to the fact that last year was a record-breaking year as Chinese-Hungarian trade increased 2.7-fold, and according to the data of the first seven months of this year, there was an 80 per cent growth in trade relations between the two countries.

He also informed his audience that Hungary submitted its accession request to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Mr Orbán finally said: Hungary is ready to host the heads of state and government summit of the China-Central-Europe cooperation in the second half of 2017.

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Liu Yunshan, member of the most senior decision-making body of the Communist Party of China, the Politburo, said that the Communist Party of China and the Government of China greatly appreciate cooperation with Central-Europe.

He described mutual respect and political trust as important elements in the building of relations. He took the view: it is necessary to respect the path of growth and the social system we each opted for, and at the same time, we must understand one another’s interests and must enhance the coordination of positions on international and regional affairs.

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The Chinese politician likewise described the coordination of development strategies as essential. In economic relations everyone must aim for mutually advantageous solutions, he took the view. Liu Yunshan also highlighted the significance of practical cooperation and big projects in the fields of infrastructure connections, industrial cooperation and economic relations.

He remarked: the reinforcement of cultural relations is also an important task in the enhancement of friendship between nations.