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Dalai Lama and 3 other protest-street-names to greet new Chinese university in Budapest

(TibetanReview.net, Jun03’21) – The liberal opposition mayor Mr Gergely Karacsony of Hungary’s capital Budapest, joined by Budapest 9th district Mayor Ms Krisztina Baranyi, on Jun 2 inaugurated the renaming of a street as Dalai Lama Street. It was meant to highlight China’s human rights repressions and to be in protest against the building of a major Chinese university campus in the city.

Three other streets adjoining the proposed site for the construction of the Fudan University were also renamed, namely as Free Hong Kong Road, the Uyghur Martyrs’ Road and Bishop Xie Shiguang Road. The last renaming is after a persecuted Chinese Catholic priest.

The building of the new campus of Fudan university, one of China’s most prestigious educational institutions, is backed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

Mr Orban is known for his closeness to human rights-challenged countries such as Russia, China and Belarus, and also for his curbs on independence of the judiciary, media and higher education.

Budapest’s mayor Gergely Karácsony and mayor of the city’s ninth district Krisztina Baranyi. (Photo courtesy: Gergely Karácsony via Facebook.)

“This Fudan project would put in doubt many of the values that Hungary committed itself to 30 years ago” at the fall of Communism, bbc.com Jun 2 quoted Mr Karacsony as saying.

“We still hope the project won’t happen, but if it does then it will have to put up with these names,” Mr Karacsony was quoted as telling a press conference.

The campus in Budapest, which is expected to be finished by 2024, will be the Chinese university’s first site in the European Union.

Around two thirds of Hungarians do not support the Chinese university, the report cited liberal think tank Republikon Institute as saying.

Only last year, Europe’s top court ruled that Hungary broke EU law when amended education rules forced the Central European University, Hungary’s leading private university, to shift most of its operations to neighbouring Austria in 2019. It said the conditions imposed by Mr Orban’s government on it were incompatible with EU law. The university’s founder, businessman George Soros, well known for promoting liberal values.

Building the Fudan University campus is estimated to cost around $1.8 billion to Hungary’s tax payers, with $1.5 billion coming by way of loan from a Chinese bank. This is more than the Orban government spent on its entire higher-education system in 2019, the report noted.

Orban has also faced criticism over a deal to reconstruct the Budapest-Belgrade railway with a $2.1 billion Chinese loan, and for his fast-track approval of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine which still has not been approved in the EU, noted thedailystar.net Jun 2.

Activists hold a Tibetan flag next to a sign in a street renamed ‘Dalai Lama’, near the planned site of the campus of Chinese Fudan University in Budapest. (Photo courtesy: Reuters)

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