“Victor Orban’s Hungary is becoming China’s Trojan horse in Europe,” says Pierre Haski in L’Obs. But unlike the ancient Greeks, today’s Chinese invaders don’t bother hiding. Budapest has agreed to become home to the European campus of Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University. CSCEC, a company blacklisted by the US for espionage and corruption, is bringing in its own people and materials from China until 2024 to get the job done. The Chinese Communist Party is even stumping up €1.5bn to cover construction – enough to cover Hungary’s annual higher-education budget.
This follows Orban’s decision two years ago to kick out George Soros’s Central European University for being pro-immigration. Orban loathes the liberal Soros, his “bête noire”. He also loathes Brussels, albeit not quite enough to say no to EU subsidies, and will seize any opportunity to wind up the “global elite”. Bluntly, by opening the door to China’s model of “ideological control”, he has picked Beijing over Brussels and Washington. While the EU is frostily stonewalling China’s influence – and Russia’s – Orban has welcomed their vaccines, criticised the EU’s pro-Uighur line and vetoed the bloc’s motion to condemn the crackdown in Hong Kong. Germany indulges Orban’s troublemaking on the basis that Hungary is “better inside than outside” the EU. But the Sino-Hungarian alliance makes the paradox clear: Hungary is both in and out. That’s a worrying precedent – and the “Hungarian pitfall” is the EU’s greatest existential threat.
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