Hungarian Politicians Oppose Government’s Plan to Build Chinese University Campus in Budapest

Following the proposal to establish the new campus of China’s Fudan University in Budapest, Hungary, the local district mayor Krisztina Baranyi has voiced concerns that no one was consulted about this plan, addressing Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

Baranyi told AFP that the decision to build the new university’s branch had been taken without anyone in the country agreeing with it, reports.

Documents published by the investigative website Direkt36 have revealed that China will provide an amount of 1.3-billion-euro ($1.6-billion) loan to cover the 1.5-billion-euro estimated costs. The same documents also showed that a Chinese construction firm was contracted without a bidding process.

“I was shocked when I found out. Everything is opaque. No one was consulted,” Baranyi added.

Through a referendum to take place this year, she is planning to let local resident tell whether it is a right decision for the municipality to hand over the site to the state, claiming that if the local people respond negatively, it would “surely be a step too far, even for the government, to then infringe the district’s ownership rights.”

Budapest’s liberal mayor Gergely Karacsony has also expressed outrage over the influence of China in buying in Hungary, calling on Orban to not compel implementation of projects in the capital if that is not being made with its approval.

“Until the government fully publishes the contract details, we do not consent to the construction,” Karacsony highlighted last week.

However, according to the government, the reputation that Fudan University, being ranked the 100th in Shanghai Ranking, would enable thousands of students from China, Hungary, and other countries to get recognized diplomas.

Critics across Hungary asserted that the new Fudan University’s campus in Budapest is controversial as the university is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, yet it is known as an elite university.

Last week, Hungary and Fudan University signed a strategic deal to build a branch campus of Fudan University in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, which is expected to start its work by 2024. The agreement was reached between the Hungarian Minister of Innovation and Technology, László Palkovics, and the President of Fudan University Xu Ningsheng.

“The parties welcome that research institutes of Fudan Hungary University might contribute to attract numerous Chinese large enterprises to Hungary and as a result R&D centres may be established,” a Hungarian ministry statement reads.

With this decision, Fudan University, based in Shanghai, will have its first campus in a European city, built in a half-million square.

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