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Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán makes surprise China visit after trip to Russia

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Copyright Rolex Dela Pena/AP
Copyright Rolex Dela Pena/AP
By Euronews with AP
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Orbán has proclaimed himself the one EU leader on friendly terms with the world's two preeminent authoritarian governments.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made an unexpected visit to China, following his trips to both Ukraine and Russia to discuss a peace settlement for Ukraine.

Stepping off the plane, Orbán was greeted by Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying and other officials.

He later posted a picture with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with which he wrote: “[Besides Russia and Ukraine, the end of the war] depends on the decision of three world powers, the United States, the European Union and China.”

Orbán visited Moscow and Kyiv last week, where he proposed that Ukraine consider agreeing to an immediate ceasefire with Russia.

Unlike most other leaders in the EU, the Hungarian prime minister is widely seen as having a close relationship with Vladimir Putin. He has routinely blocked, delayed or watered down EU efforts to assist Kyiv and impose sanctions on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán enter a hall to attend a joint news conference following their talks in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán enter a hall to attend a joint news conference following their talks in Moscow.Alexander Zemlianichenko/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

His visit to Moscow triggered condemnation from Ukraine and other European leaders, but Orbán justified the trip as an outreach effort.

"The number of countries that can talk to both warring sides is diminishing," he said. "Hungary is slowly becoming the only country in Europe that can speak to everyone.”

Although Orbán has long argued for an end to hostilities in Ukraine, he has not outlined what that might mean for the country’s territorial integrity or future security.

Tightening ties with China

Two months ago, Xi made a similar trip to Budapest as part of the Chinese President’s three-country European tour that also included stops in France and Serbia.

Hungary and China signed a number of new agreements during these talks to deepen their economic and cultural cooperation.

Beijing has invested billions in Hungary and sees the European Union member as an important foothold inside the 27-member bloc.

In December, Hungary announced that one of the world’s largest EV manufacturers, China’s BYD, will open its first European production factory in the south of the country — an inroad that could upend the competitiveness of the continent’s car manufacturing industry.

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