Interview: Hungary seeks to become top CEE location for China: official
BUDAPEST, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- On the eve of a major gathering between China and 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to open in Suzhou, China, Xinhua had an interview with Levente Magyar, state secretary at Hungary's ministry of foreign affairs and trade on how he sees ties between his country and China.
Magyar, responding on Monday, said that between Hungary's "Opening to the East" strategy and China's "Belt and Road" initiative, ties were excellent, and becoming steadily stronger, based on mutual political trust.
Hungary, he said, would very much like to become a paramount European station along the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Asked for specifics, he cited a tripartite meeting in Beijing last Thursday focused on upgrading the railroad line between Budapest and Belgrade, attended by officials of Hungary, China, and Serbia. "The text of the Hungarian-Chinese intergovernmental agreement was initialed there and is expected to be signed at the China-CEE summit" beginning on Tuesday.
The rail line, part of the envisaged Land-Sea Express Line is an essential component of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road concept. China plans to improve its freight shipments to the region by sending its goods by sea to Piraeus, Greece, and continuing northward and westward along a high-speed rail line. The move requires upgrading the Budapest-Belgrade section of the route.
This June, on his visit to Budapest, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto signed a memorandum of understanding between China and Hungary to jointly build the Belt and Road.
The memorandum aimed to develop political, economic, financial, infrastructural, and people-to-people ties, Magyar said. Hungary, he noted, was the first European country to conclude an agreement of this kind with China.
The rail line, he added, is the first project to go forward in the 16+1 mechanism, a project that includes the 16 countries of the CEE region and China. Magyar suggested that it could serve as a model for other cross-border infrastructure investments.
Hungary will profit because of its location, he said.
Magyar also spoke of the financial cooperation between the two countries, pointing out that the Bank of China had opened a regional center in Budapest last December and that the People's Bank of China had recently designated the Budapest branch of Bank of China as the region's renminbi clearing center.
In so doing, he said, Budapest has become the fifth European clearing center for Chinese yuan following London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg.
The Hungarian government views the Bank of China as an important partner and fully supports the concept of advancing renminbi into a top world currency.