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Hungarians protest, including with Tibetan flags, against Chinese university plan in Budapest

(TibetanReview.net, Jun06’21) – Tibetan national flags were a prominent presence during a protest by thousands of people in Budapest on Jun 5, calling for the scrapping of plans to build a Chinese university campus in the Hungarian capital at a huge cost to the country’s taxpayers.

Opponents of the project say it will undercut the country’s own higher education and increase the influence of China’s Communist authorities, reported the bbc.com Jun 6.

Some of the protester, who marched through the city’s streets to the parliament building, held banner declaring “Treason”, reported Reuters Jun 6.

“I do not agree with our country’s strengthening feudal relationship with China,” Patrik, a 22-year-old student declining to give his full name was quoted as saying.

Like many others, he has said the funds should be used “to improve our own universities instead of building a Chinese one.”

The report noted that Hungary had signed an agreement with Shanghai-based Fudan University in April on building the campus at a site in Budapest where a dormitory village for Hungarian students had previously been planned.

Opposition politicians and economists have criticised what they say will be the high costs of the project and a lack of transparency. Budapest’s mayor also opposes the plan.

On Jun 2, the Mayor, Gergely Karacsony, named four streets in the area after the victims of China’s human rights violations.

Among those new street signs included Free Hong Kong Road, Dalai Lama Street and Uyghur Martyrs’ Road, with the fourth one being named after a persecuted catholic bishop in China.

Around two thirds of Hungarians do not support the Chinese university, according to liberal think tank Republikon Institute, said the bbc.com report.

Prime Minister “Orban and [his right-wing party] Fidesz portray themselves as anti-communists, but in reality the communists are their friends,” the AFP news agency quoted protesting university student Szonja Radics as saying.

The construction of the Fudan University campus in Budapest is estimated to cost about $1.8bn. This is more than what the Orban government spent on its entire higher-education system in 2019.

Some $1.5bn of the costs will be provided by a loan from a Chinese bank.

The right-wing government of PM Viktor Orban has close ties with Beijing and has been in trouble with the EU for its attacks on the independence of the country’s judiciary and media.

Earlier this month, Hungary blocked an EU statement criticising China’s treatment of Hong Kong, noted the bbc.com report.

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