At the ninth China-Eastern-Central Europe summit, which was held on this occasion as part of an online video conference, Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke about the global race for the vaccine against the coronavirus, constructive cooperation between East and West, free world trade, Chinese-Hungarian economic relations and the use of the Chinese vaccine in Hungary, among others, Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s press chief informed the Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday.
According to his information, Orban expressed his appreciation to President Xi Jinping for convening the conference despite the present extraordinary circumstances. The Hungarian prime minister recalled that the global pandemic had started a year ago. This crisis, he said, has changed everything; it has torn us out of our comfort zone, has launched an entirely new era in the world economy and global politics, and has compelled states to face a dual challenge: we must protect our citizens’ lives and jobs all at once.
“Though an entire year has gone by, at present we are precisely where we were last spring; the whole world would like to buy a product, the supply of which falls far short of the demand for it. What were face masks and ventilators a year ago are now vaccines,” Orban said, underlining that the solution to the crisis is none other than the vaccine.
The Hungarian prime minister also said as the lives of our citizens and the recovery of our economy are at stake, we need more constructive cooperation between East and West than ever before, based on mutual respect and goodwill. The conclusion of the negotiations of the China-EU agreement on the mutual protection of investments was a good step in this direction, he added.
Orban said Hungary is grateful to the People’s Republic of China and personally to President Xi for all assistance provided during this challenging period. He recalled that last year we managed to set up an airbridge through which medical equipment in the tens of millions was transported from China to Hungary. At the same time, Chinese businesses took advantage of the investment opportunities afforded by the Hungarian economic action plan, and brought significant projects to Hungary which elevated China to number one investor in Hungary in 2020.
Orban underlined that we Hungarians support free and fair global trade which is more important today than ever before. The fewer obstacles there are to economic and trade cooperation, the more swiftly our economies can recover, he said. The prime minister offered his congratulations on the establishment of “the largest free trade zone in world history,” the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and expressed hope that negotiations about future cooperation between the RCEP and the European Union could begin soon. The 17+1 format could serve as a good engine towards achieving this goal, he added.
At the summit, Orban paid tribute to the scientific community in China in connection with the development of a vaccine against COVID. He said thank you for the opportunity that Hungarian experts were allowed to visit the production sites and to consult with Chinese experts. “I received very reassuring reports from our delegation, and based on their experiences, our national regulatory authority has issued a licence for emergency use. We greatly appreciate the Chinese authorities’ constructive approach, thanks to which we were able to sign a contract regarding the procurement of vaccines,” the prime minister said, adding it is to be hoped that the first delivery could arrive as early as next week.
Orban finally stated that the pandemic had not prevented Hungary from observing its commitments in the 17+1 framework system. The planning of the modernised railway line between Belgrade and Budapest is under way, as are the preparations for the Fudan International University in Budapest.