Deals with communist China are okay, the red star isn’t

On April 30 Li Kequiang, first deputy prime minister of China, arrived in Budapest for a two-day official visit. As diplomatic protocol dictates, he was greeted by his Hungarian counterpart, Tibor Navracsics, deputy prime minister. Navracsics was accompanied by László Kövér, interim president of Hungary.

China does everything on a grand scale. Li arrived with a 200-member business group who are allegedly interested in striking deals with Hungary. Just as Viktor Orbán said in Warsaw a few days ago, his government's hard work to convince China to view Hungary as an economic partner is yielding results. At the airport Li Kequiang delivered a speech suitable for the occasion. He reminded his audience that Hungary was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with "the new China." (What a surprise: communist China was established on October 1, 1949.) Li also stressed that Hungary could function as an intermediary between China and the European Union, something I find ironic in light of Hungary's strained relations with the EU.

The Chinese deputy prime minister met Viktor Orbán on May 1 when the Hungarian prime minister, not for the first time, talked about a "strategic alliance" between the two countries. This time even in the name of China when he announced that "Hungary and China consider each other strategic allies." I don't know what Li Kequiang thought of this because the Chinese politician in his speech at the airport simply talked about "the friendship between the two countries" and about "the deepening bilateral economic cooperation." 

Orbán emphasized that "given the strong wind that exists in the economic sphere we shouldn't be standing on one foot if we have two." That certainly makes sense economically, but talking about "political friends, political alliances" is a potentially dangerous game to play with a communist country. Democratic western nations, including the United States, might find the newly found love affair with China a bit worrisome.

So, let's see what Orbán managed to get from the Chinese. Li and Orbán signed seven cooperative deals yesterday. Of the four most important, China's leading information and communication provider, Huawei Technologies, agreed to set up its European logistics center in Hungary. How many people the center will employ in Hungary is difficult to determine. The communiqué talks about 7,000 employees throughout Europe. Second, ZTE Corporation, a telecom infrastructure producer, signed an agreement worth 10 million euros with the Hungarian government to set up an operating maintenance center. Again, this company would target consumers across Europe. The establishment of this center would mean about 400 jobs in Hungary. Third, China's Investment Bank signed an agreement with the Magyar Fejlesztési Bank (Hungarian Investment Bank) providing Hungary with a loan amounting to 1 billion euros. Apparently more money will be available if Hungary uses this amount profitably. Fourth, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. signed a memorandum worth another 1 billion euros with MÁV (Hungarian State Railways) to build a 20 kilometer rail express linking the Franz Liszt Airport to downtown Budapest.

The Chinese don't seem to trust the Hungarians very much when it comes to the loan because they are leaving an expert behind "who will assist and supervise the destination of the loans" handled by the state-owned Hungarian Investment Bank. It is hard to know at the moment who will receive money from the Chinese loan. Part of it will help Chinese companies already in Hungary. Some might go to the expansion of Hungarian businesses that are working for Chinese owned companies. A smaller share of the money might be allocated for the expansion of Hungarian small- and medium-size businesses. By the way, I find it interesting that the Hungarian government doesn't seem to object to a Chinese overseer of a fairly small loan while it wants to avoid any IMF interference, even for 20 billion euros.

While Viktor Orbán was gushing over his new political ally, the Hungarian police rounded up five people who, to show their dissatisfaction with the Hungarian government's disregard of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights about the five-pointed red star, wore the banned symbol. I wrote about this case a few days ago. While the flags of communist China were being prominently displayed, the people caught wearing red stars were kept in jail for six hours.

Voros csillagok

These symbols of communist rule didn't seem to bother Viktor Orbán

Zsolt Nyári, the spokesman for the Hungarian Green Left party, was arrested yesterday afternoon at the May 1 celebrations held in Városliget. Soon enough the police rounded up Attila Vajnai, chairman of the Workers Party 2006, a more moderate splinter group of the communist party in Hungary. Vajnai already had an encounter with the Hungarian justice system over the red star. His case ended up in the European Court of Justice. The third man was Attila Trasciatti, managing chairman of the Green Left party. Two women, Krisztina Noé and Judit Róna, members of the same party, joined them. Their cases will be prosecuted in due course. 

I should mention here that the far left is not really a threat to Hungarian democracy. They seem to be few in number and pretty harmless. They strike me as idealistic people who still believe in some kind of democratic socialism. None of these people or parties as far as I can ascertain wants to destroy the present regime by force. But it is a crime to display symbols of dictatorship and the red star is one of those.

So, it seems, there will be another red star case before the European Court. The third time around.

All the while the red flags of Viktor Orbán's political and strategic ally, replete with their five-pointed stars, were blowing in the east wind.

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Francis Dedeyne
Guest

Brussels calling.
Seems that Orban’s sole ambition is to become a dictatorial leader, Communist China style.
As he does not get any support from democratic Western people, he’s now looking to the East.
No surprise here.

petofi
Guest

@ Strategic Partners?
Yeah, right. A country of billions population at the far end of Asia is seeking a ‘strategic partnership’ with Hungary. That’s a laugher. What would they be after?
Our girls? Possibly, since men greatly outnumber women there.
Sending someone to ride shotgun on a billion euros is another good one. A billion euros is pocket change for a mayor of an average Chinese city. Tarlos must be salivating but the Chinese are nobody’s fools. They’ve heard about the Hungarian discovery of Spanish Wax before!

petofi
Guest

I’m afraid there will be huge price to be paid–unfortunatley, not by the Felchutian but by Hungary–for Orban’s leveraging the EU fourteen ways to Sunday at a time of political and economic uncertainty.
This will not be forgotten. The boot is not out of the question but Europe will do it when THEY decide not when the FELCSUTIAN is trying to egg them to it..

Francis Dedeyne
Guest

Brussels calling.
It’s strange that the Hungarians think that they are the “elected people”, and that all Chinese money will flow in their direction (or at least in Orban’s pockets).
Today Vice-PM Li Keqiang met in Brussels with Belgian PM di Ruppo. Contrary to the Hungarian press, this was just a fait divers in the news. But I’m pretty sure that the contracts and colabs they discussed are worth much more than the deals Orban was able to make.

LwiiH
Guest

I saw their nice big jet in a parked prominent position @ 2B on my way out to London. It’s the first time I’ve seen a jumbo at the airport. Didn’t recognize the tail markings but then a lot of new airlines are now flying into Budapest since Malev’s collapse ended the state’s need to keep them out.
So, how do the Chinese work. A good model is Angola where they Chinese have pumped in billions in aid. They’ve built entire cities with very little benefit to the locals. None of the locals got construction jobs as those went to Chinese labour flown in for the occasion. The locals were not given jobs in the new buildings as those when to Chinese contractors. And I could go on but here is one resource you might find interesting. http://bit.ly/kGLqBz. Here is a very short item on Angola. http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/development/74050
So, this false aid is just recycled through Chinese companies never really touching the local population…. nice land grab by China! I wonder what’s in it for OV and poor Hungarians will most likely be screwed even more then they are today.

Dubious
Guest

People have to understand there are good communists, like China and bad communists, like the MSzP and the EU which is the modern day USSR.
The differences between the EU and China is China is prepared to give us funding… um, wait… that China don’t want to make us a colony and interfere in our affairs. After all, we are fully in compliance with all Chinese democratic norms.

PWT
Guest

What’s the difference between a Fidesz-affiliated Hungarian renting a piece of farm land from the Hungarian government and a Communist Chinese firm leasing an airport from the same government? The Communist Chinese firm gets 50 years more on the lease and the contract is sealed for national security purposes.

joseph simon
Guest

Diósgyőr calling. Off the topic.
It must be painful for Eva to see what is happening to her idol Gyurcsány. We always knew he cannot speak, now it appears he cannot write either. He is behaving like a spoiled brat over this new accusation.

petofi
Guest

@ Joseph Simon…”..cannot speak”
Really? He’s probably the best rhetorician in Hungary and that includes THE FELCSUTIAN, too.
Sorry, Mr. J.S., but the whole Gyurcsany thing is a typical Fidesz setup, ‘vengeance-shall-be-mine’ thing. Why are both copies missing? The whole thing is a smear campaign attempting to put Gyurcsany in the same ‘liar/cheat’ boat Smitt Pal was sent sailing in. Typical.
I’m afraid there are too many interior ministry guys in the Fidesz leadership not to suspect the worst kind of skulduggery where Orban’s blood-hate enemy is concerned.
But many Hungarians–you know, those mindless Beke Menet types–will swallow this hook, line, and sinker.

nem-fontos-uzenet
Guest

The interest of any nations is unity, civility, justice, and some kindness.
The sickness of Hungary is close to a terminal stage.
Will the patient survive, or finish its Trianon course, and disappear in the EU?
Disappearance preferred.

Member

It’s disgusting how easy these pigs sell out their values for a few bucks to stay in power.
Chen Guangcheng’s children have been harassed, his wife was beaten by the Chinese authorities. Orban just doesn’t care. Pro-Tibet activists harassed by the Hungarian police. No problem.
Disgusting maggots.

mutuelles
Guest

hey, I really like your article, but I can’t see the pics, is it a problem with my browser ? (I’m using internet explorer)
Thanks,
See you later,
Julie

Guest

London Calling!
Birds of a feather………
It seems that China’s manifestation of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom of the press’ and human ‘rights’ including so called ‘independence’ of the courts have shocking similarities with Orban’s versions.
Transparency International’s corruption indices will be similar in 2013 too!
Orban just needs to find a way to control the internet and the ‘tessellation’ is complete.
Presumably Orban will be celebrating the Chinese New Year big time in Hungary?
How appropriate – 2013 (10 February) is the year of the snake!
Orban the snake!
Regards
Charlie

Member

@ Joseph, I hate to tell you bit you are in the wrong thread. I would love to hear about your opinion about the cosy Hungarian -Chinese strategic partnership that Fidesz and their faithful followers worship versus the EU link. You must love those communists with Orban.

Kirsten
Guest

That the absurdity of seeking a strategic alliance with Communist China while opposing all “Communists” in Hungary does not occur to Fidesz or OV is remarkable. But the fact that they prefer a Chinese supervisor to one from the IMF reminds of the complaint of a Czech businessman who said that it was much easier with the Russians in the Comecon because it was always possible to negotiate and to deal with them. The EU just demands to adhere to the rules! Really inconvenient!

An
Guest

“By the way, I find it interesting that the Hungarian government doesn’t seem to object to a Chinese overseer of a fairly small loan while it wants to avoid any IMF interference, even for 20 billion euros”
Well, maybe they hope that the Chinese overseers may be easier to convince (or bribe) than the IMF.

Paul
Guest
What intrigues me is what China thinks it is getting out of this. Whatever Orbán might spin, China doesn’t need Hungary for anything. All the things it is doing in Hungary it could just as easily do in almost any other European country – and probably with more effect. Hungary may be close to the geographical centre of Europe, but it is a long way from the economic or political centre. It doesn’t have the cheapest, or best educated workers, and any sort of deal the Chinese are getting re land purchase/lease, tax breaks, etc, it could get just as easily, if not more so, in many other countries. I suppose it could be strategic, with Russia seemingly trying to re-establish its old Soviet empire, Hungary could one day find itself in a very ‘interesting’ position. But what are we talking about here – Chinese cruise missiles on Hungarian soil? And, if you were going to pick a country with a significant border with the new Russian empire, Hungary wouldn’t come very high on your list. I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on all this, but my guess would be two-fold: First, it could be as easy… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Incidentally, the red star may be illegal, but the hammer and sickle isn’t – or at least it wasn’t up to a few years ago.
Whenever I showed visitors round Budapest, one of the ‘sights’ I always pointed out was the Aeroflot office/shop in Váci Utca, still resplendent with its hammer and sickle. (But now that shop has closed or moved, even that little remnant of the pre-1990 days has gone.)
And, thinking about red stars, reminds me that I have a t shirt with a rather prominent one on it (it’s a monkey wearing a ‘Che’ beret, since you ask). This has been retired to ‘home and garden’ wear recently, but I think I might give it a few more outings into Debrecen in the summer…

Louis Kovach
Guest

I would strongly recommend that Ms Balogh review an article from the current issue of “World Affairs” The New Communism” by Alan Johnson, before belittling the current communist movements in Hungary or elsewhere.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

So the Viktator has signed up for Chinese help (and money). The Chinese telecom folk have long wanted non Chinese, non African sites for their Industrial Espionage outfits. Now they have it.
Their ‘loans’ supervised by a ‘Mandarin’ of the Orange Rank will only be paid to Chinese outfits and then only for Chinese equipment and labour. So the Hungarians employed as garbage shifters mates (third class) will be paid from Hungarian funds. When the entire ‘loan’ is spent and has been sent back to China, Hungary (who got nothing from it) will have to ‘repay’ the Chinese for the investments they the Chinese now own in Hungary. It is a form of something I knew long ago and far away where it was called the ‘Squeeze’.
The other day I noticed that some U.S. bankers had sold off large holdings they had in some of the largest Chinese banks. Is the Chinese bubble beginning to deflate? There is also some sort of ‘in fighting’ going on in upper ranks of the Chinese government. But I do not suppose Hungary has noted this.

Member
@ Lois Kovach, I must say that I am not familiar wit the book you are suggesting Eva (and inadvertently other readers) to get aquatinted with, as without, anyone’s opinion should be dismissed. The book you are suggesting is just one of many, and I am sure you haven’t read them all. At the same time I must clarify that Eva’s reference to the “new” Hungarian far left movement is simply suggestion that there is nothing to be afraid of. The Hungarian far left movement is not even close to the Chinese communist practice that Orban seems to took to his heart. I think at this point in Hungary the closest group standing the practice of communism (or far left if you wish) is the Fidesz. Taking away savings, controlling the press, having a “secret police” with power of access everything without warrant and only report to Fidesz, redrawing electoral districts to benefit the party and working hard to eliminate the opposition so soon we ca can only vote for one party representatives, having all the leaders swore on the party (not out in he open of course, but read what happens when one differs), putting up show trials, putting… Read more »
Louis Kovach
Guest

It is not a book, it is a scholarly quarterly. The problem is exactly your and Eva’s attitude that “there is nothing to be afraid of the Hungarian communist movements”. Any movement, anywhere that does not acknowledge its murderous history should not be dismissed.
BTW, I am amused by the exhibited economic “knowledge” or lack of it in the posting and in the comments.
Ans some1, it is obvious that you did not read the magazine article or any of the references cited there.

An
Guest
@Louis Kovach “The Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek and the French philosopher and ex-Maoist Alain Badiou have become the leading proponents of this new school. Others associated with the project are the authors of the influential trilogy Empire, Multitude, Commonwealth, the American Michael Hardt of Duke University and the Italian Marxist Toni Negri; the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo (who recently declared that he has positively “reevaluated” The Protocols of the Elders of Zion); Bologna University professor and ex-Maoist Alessandro Russo; and the professor of poetry at the European Graduate School (and another ex-Maoist) Judith Balso. Other leading voices include Alberto Toscano, translator of Alain Badiou, a sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths in London, and a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism; the literary critic and essayist Terry Eagleton; and Bruno Bosteels from Cornell University. Most spoke at “The Idea of Communism,” a three-day conference held in London in 2009 that, to the astonishment of the organizers, attracted nearly a thousand people willing to pay more than one hundred pounds each. After that event, a companion publishing industry, powered by Verso Books, has grown up to accompany the movement, making it respectable on campuses. Among new communism’s most important English-language… Read more »
Member

@Louis What’s your take on the FIDESZ’ friendship with the oppressing communist China? How worried should we be?
If you think banning t-shirts is the way fight the extra left you are on the wrong track.
Check this out. It’s from the Nezopont Intezet (you know what it means).
http://nezopontintezet.hu/aktualis/gyurcsannyal-vagy-nelkule/
I just wanted to show one poll. 57% of the nation thinks positively about Janos Kadar and get a load of this: 62% of the Jobbik sympathizers think positively about Janos Kadar. Whiskey tango foxtrot?

Louis Kovach
Guest

@MD I do not think there is anything political behind Chinese activity in Hungary. It is strictly business!
I am against banning any T-shirts or any publications or any freedom of speach! I belive very strongly in the correctness of the US Constitution. But becuase the question was asked, do you think that right wing activity is stopped by banning the Mein Kampf?
I am having problem with ignoring as mundane any communist activity anywhere.
The average Hungarian likes anybody who does not force him to think or work very hard, be it Kadar or Franz Joseph or anybody else. However, both of these were still murderers!

Louis Kovach
Guest

@an Please keep in mind the last few lines of the cited article also; “The new communist ideas might yet connect with the young, the angry, and the idealistic who are confronted by a profound economic crisis in the context of an exhausted social democracy and a self-loathing intellectual culture. Tempting as it is, we can’t afford to just shake our heads at the new communism and pass on by.”

Member

@Louis “I do not think there is anything political behind Chinese activity in Hungary. It is strictly business!”
I don’t think so. The Chinese are shopping around for legitimacy. They toss a few dollars to wannabe dictators like Orban, who then locks up the pro-Tibet demonstrators or at least doesn’t criticize China’s record on human rights.
Regarding the Main Kampf I don’t believe in the banning either. You are right. Commies are evil, they should be watched – but this is not the scope of this blog. You are barking on the wrong tree.

Louis Kovach
Guest

@MD We disagree. China is well aware that governments can change in any country and they will not waste funds on temporary (by you) percieved support from any government. Hungary is to small a dog for them to count as a political ally. They are past the stage when Albania was important to them. I am doing business with China (both ways) for tha past 25 years, I have a pretty good idea what is behind their economic activity in “fringe” country, and Hungary is a fringe country for them.
Regarding your tree…I did not realize that the sole scope of this blog is the venting of the mutual hatred of the participants towards the current Hungarian government…but if that is the case then I apologize for pissing at the base of the tree….

LwiiH
Guest

This is business. Here’s how it works. China pledges $1,000,000,000. Then they start projects based on that billion. Chinese companies will do the work with Chinese workers so no Hungarian (aside from OV) will see any benefit. So, most of the billion ends up in Chinese hands and Hungary owe $1,000,000,000 to the Chinese at the end of it all. So the get 2,000,000,000 for their initial investment of $1,000,000,000. Ok, Facebook looks like a better investment but you still can’t complain about a doubling like this.

Louis Kovach
Guest

@LwiHSomeone spends a billion in a country and that country does not see any benefit from it????Where do you get these ideas????? Naturally they expect to make money on their investments, who wouldn’t?

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