Beijing considers Hungary bridgehead to Europe, says Chinese foreign minister

Int’l Relations

Hungary is a bridgehead in Chinese-European cooperation, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a meeting with Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjártó on Tuesday. Wang expressed hope that Hungary will continue to fulfil this role, Szijjártó told MTI after the talks.

"It is very much perceptible that regional cooperation between China and the CEE region is handled as a priority in Beijing and China appreciates Hungary acting as a bridgehead," he said. Hungary has attracted the highest Chinese investment in central Europe, at around $3.5 bln, Szijjártó said.

Wang said that China will step up investments abroad and Central Europe would obviously be a beneficiary of this endeavor. Wang said the Hungarian government's "opening to the east" policy and the Chinese government's "Silk Road diplomacy" concept are clearly reinforcing each other. Szijjártó added that Hungary represents one of the best transport routes for Chinese exports to Europe.

The Hungarian minister noted that Hungary has been the first to set up a hub for regional tourism cooperation with China. Hungary's Eximbank has been so far the only bank that contributed to a $500 mln Central European investment bank set up by China, he added. Hungary contributed $30 mln. Between 2003 and 2013, two-way trade increased by six-fold and Hungary had record-high exports of $2 bln to China last year.

During the first seven months of this year, exports to China further increased by an annual 8%. During Szijjártó's visit, the two country's export-import banks signed an agreement on raising from €200 mln to €300 mln the joint credit line that is designed to finance joint investments and Hungarian exports to China.

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