China in agreement to build Hungary/Serbia rail link [Updated]


Part of €10 billion in Chinese funding for infrastructure work promised to the Central Eastern Europe region some 18 months ago may finally be heading Hungary’s way, it appears, as China Prime Minister Li Kequianq announced from Bucharest a trilateral agreement on the building of a direct rail link between Hungary and Serbia.

Appearing at a press conference with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and PM Ivica Dačić of Serbia, Li confirmed that the leaders had “agreed to begin cooperation on the construction” of the railway, for which “the three parties agreed to immediately set up a joint working group to launch the project as soon as possible.”

Li has been pushing for more Chinese presence in CEE’s railway sector for some time; the premier recently editorialized in national news service Xinhua that “Most CEE countries see a need to upgrade and renovate their railway lines, roads, ports and other transportation facilities. China is making rapid progress in the manufacturing of transportation equipment, especially in the field of high-speed railway. We are fully capable of undertaking transportation infrastructure projects with high quality in CEE countries.”

Earlier, Li told media that "I think cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe is in favor of the European integration process and we wish to see a prosperous, united and developed Europe, and also to see a strong euro currency.”

Li also in Bucharest with leaders from CEE nations including Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania and Romania in addition to those of Hungary and Serbia; last week, Li attended the 16th EU-China Summit in Beijing.

Update: Hungary seeks to become regional hub for Chinese railway construction company
Hungary would like to become the regional hub for China’s railway construction company, Foreign Trade State Secretary Peter Szijjártó told MTI in Bucharest on Tuesday.

An agreement between the heads of government of China, Hungary and Serbia regarding the upgrading of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line with Chinese support was also important in terms of promoting this objective, Szijjarto said.

Szijjarto estimated that the upgrading of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line would cost $2.9 billion to $3 billion, and said that Hungary could look with hope to financing talks after the Chinese PM expressed his willingness to cooperate.

Earlier today, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also stressed the importance of the three-party railway agreement.

“We will create a very rapid connection, and will finance this from a financial fund the Chinese had set up yet one year earlier with the aim to support Central European investments,” Orbán said.

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