Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Hungarians protest against planned Chinese university campus

BUDAPEST – Thousands of Hungarians, some with banners declaring ‘Betrayal’, protested on Saturday against plans by a Chinese university to open a campus in Budapest.

Liberal opponents of the nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, accuse him of visiting China, fearing the campus could undermine the quality of higher education and help Beijing increase its influence in Hungary and the European Union.

“I do not agree with the strengthening of our country’s feudal relations with China,” Patrik, a 22-year-old student who did not want to give his full name, said during the protest in the Hungarian capital.

He said funds should be used “to improve our own universities instead of building a Chinese one.”

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Demonstration against Chinese Fudan University Campus in Budapest
A protester holds a poster reading ‘Betrayal’ during a protest against the planned Chinese Fudan University campus in Budapest, Hungary, on June 5, 2021. (Bernadett Szabo / Reuters)

In April, the government signed an agreement with Fudan University in Shanghai to build the campus on a site in Budapest where a dormitory village for Hungarian students was previously planned.

Opposition politicians and economists have criticized the high cost of the project and the lack of transparency. The mayor of Budapest is against the plan.

“Fidesz is selling the housing of Hungarian students and their future in wholesale, just so it can bring the elite university of China’s dictatorship into the country,” the organizers of Saturday’s protest said on Facebook.

Orban has built cordial ties with China, Russia and other illegal governments, while closing horns with Western allies by restricting the independence of scientific research, the judiciary and the media.

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He has faced a united opposition for the first time since taking office in 2010 ahead of a 2022 parliamentary election.

By Anita Komuves

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Nation World News Desk
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