Speaker of Parliament László Kövér discussed bilateral ties, relations between China and the eastern and central European countries and the fight against Covid-19 in a videoconference with Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.
In the call, Kövér thanked Li for the medical equipment China provided to Hungary during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, parliament’s press chief told MTI. Kövér also thanked China for selling some 5 million doses of its Covid vaccine to Hungary, of which the first 550,000 arrived in Budapest earlier this week. Li in turn thanked Kövér for Hungary having been among the first countries to offer help to China in curbing the pandemic.
The speaker lauded China’s success in containing the pandemic using its own resources, noting that this had also required timely measures from the government and discipline from the public. “We have a difficult year behind us and an uncertain one ahead of us, but I am hopeful that the coming year will again be one of upward momentum and optimism compared with the last one for both the Chinese and Hungarian people,” Kövér said.
Concerning bilateral economic relations, the speaker said the two countries had moved significantly closer to one another over the past decade. Hungary’s strategy of opening up to the East, which has boosted bilateral trade turnover by 25%, and China’s Belt and Road initiative have laid the foundations for strategic cooperation, he added.
China was Hungary’s biggest foreign investor last year, investing more than 5 billion US dollars in the country, Kövér said, adding that Chinese companies doing business in Hungary employ 16,000 people. Kövér welcomed that trade turnover between China and Hungary increased by more than 20% last year despite the pandemic.
The two speakers also spoke highly of the China-CEE “17+1” cooperation and urged the pursuit of as many joint projects as possible. Kövér said Hungary did not consider the cooperation between China and the CEE countries an alternative to the European Union, but rather a bridge between the EU and China and Asia as a whole through which they could develop models to be put to use by other nations.
Li and Kövér agreed on the need for continued pragmatic cooperation between their countries based on mutual respect for each other’s strategic interests and a vow not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs.