The European Union will lose out if it views China as a rival, as it has become evident in recent years that the Far Eastern country already has a competitive advantage in many areas, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Facebook following his meetings on Tuesday in Ningbo, China.
According to a statement by the ministry, the minister emphasised during the opening of the China-Central and Eastern Europe Trade Exhibition that China is Hungary’s strategic partner. The agreement regarding the partnership was signed in 2017, and it is not just a communication ploy, but an issue that the government takes seriously. He pointed out that China’s gross domestic product has now surpassed that of the EU. He also reminded that in 2010, China accounted for only 9 per cent of the world’s GDP, while the EU accounted for 22 per cent. However, the situation has changed for various reasons, and now the figures stand at 18 and 17 per cent respectively.
He emphasised that
if the EU wants to benefit from its relationship with China, it should focus on cooperation based on mutual trust, respect, and benefits
rather than rivalry. ‘Hungary does not see China as a risk or a threat, but rather as a state with which we can gain many benefits through cooperation,’ the minister nailed down.
According to Péter Szijjártó, the Hungarian example demonstrates that much can be gained from fair cooperation, as Hungary has become the number one investment destination for Chinese companies in Central and Eastern Europe. The country has the highest number of Confucius Institutes, and most Chinese cities can be reached directly from Hungary. Furthermore, Hungary has the highest number of food export licences among the countries in the region, and following the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing opened organised travel opportunities to Hungary, the first within the EU, he highlighted. The minister stated that there is an increasing demand for healthy food in China, and Hungary has a competitive advantage at the EU level due to its strict food safety regulations. Of the twenty-three Hungarian companies present at the exhibition, the majority represent the food industry, he noted.
The minister emphasised that the government strongly opposes the bloc formation that is taking place in the world, as this goes against the Hungarian national interest. He reiterated that Central Europe has always lost out historically when there was conflict between the East and the West.
‘Instead, we support connectivity and consider the East-West division as good news in the key sectors of the global economy.
Separation and risk reduction make no sense,’ he said.
He highlighted that Hungary is a good example in this regard, as it has become an important meeting point for Western car manufacturers and Eastern battery manufacturers who need each other. He emphasised that, apart from Germany and China, only Hungary has factories of all three major German premium car brands, and at the same time, four out of the world’s ten largest electric battery manufacturers are present in the country. He noted that the value of Hungarian trade with Zhejiang Province alone reached $1.6 billion last year, which greatly contributed to breaking the Hungarian-Chinese trade record. As a result, China has become Hungary’s number one trading partner outside of Europe.