The Dalai Lama sided with the Hungarian opposition in a symbolic victory over Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Not personally, but as one of the street names used by Budapest City Hall to torpedo one of Orbán’s most expensive projects, the construction of a campus for the Chinese Fudan University in Shanghai.
One of the pre-candidates of the united front trying to overthrow the prime minister in next year’s elections, the capital’s mayor, Gergely Karácsony, has used a flashy strategy to criticize the work . On the avenues that lead to lands intended for the institution of China, he placed the names of opponents of the Chinese regime.
Besides the one that honors the religious leader who defends the autonomy of Tibet, the Street of the Uyghur Martyrs was also named, in reference to the Muslim minority under the repression of the Chinese Communist Party, Free Hong Kong – the special administrative region was the scene of protests against the Chinese government and Bishop Xie Shiguang Street, named after a persecuted Catholic priest.
The construction would cost 1.5 billion euros (9.2 billion reais) and, according to documents obtained by a Hungarian news agency, would be financed by a Chinese loan to Hungary. The Hungarian government would also pay the salaries of around 500 professors and the maintenance of the 520,000 m² campus (about a third of Ibirapuera Park), sports hall and congress center, but would not have administrative or didactic control. of the University. the published project.
Opposition to the project was further inflamed when it became known that the chosen area was the same as that previously intended for a student housing complex for Hungarians from across the country studying in Budapest. Renaming the streets would not be enough to interrupt Orbán’s plans, admitted Karácsony, but “it sends a clear message that we will use all means at our disposal to protect the student city,” he told the website. Politico.
Orbán was eventually forced to suspend the project after thousands of protesters marched in Budapest against the construction of the university. Polls showed the idea was rejected by a majority of Hungarians, including nearly a third of the Prime Minister’s supporters, and protesters carried banners with nationalist slogans such as “Hungarian money for universities Hungarians ”during the rallies.
For historian Eva Balogh, former professor at Yale University (USA), the Fudan question was the perfect stimulus to trigger large protests, until then timid and restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic. “There was a problem there that everyone could understand: ‘Hungarians are being deported for the benefit of foreign interests. Their own government doesn’t care at all about them and their future, but it slavishly carries out the orders of an oppressive regime, which represses Christians, ”Balogh says.
Surprised by the marches, Orbán suspended the project and promised to hold a referendum, but only after the elections, scheduled for 2022. The election is expected to be the first in which the Prime Minister, at the head of Hungary since 2010, is in danger of losing power.
A sign that the Hungarian prime minister may have felt the blow of the threat of the new united front was his appearance in an interview, to reinforce that Fudan is collaborating with universities in Germany, Scandinavia and the United States. “If these countries can protect their national security interests, so can we,” he said.
With strong anti-Communist rhetoric in his speeches, Orbán paradoxically blocked statements against the Chinese government’s human rights actions at meetings of European Union leaders. After vetoing a condemnation of the crackdown in Hong Kong, the prime minister said, “If it is presented a hundred more times, the same result will be repeated a hundred times.
Hungary has also moved closer economically to the Asian country, with partnerships in infrastructure – such as the reform of the Budapest-Belgrade railway, with funding of US $ 3 billion (BRL 15.2 billion) – and in vaccination – this was one of the few countries Europeans will use a Chinese vaccine, from Sinopharma, in their campaign against Covid-19. It is also home to the largest offshore supply center of the Huawei telecommunications group.
Karácsony took the opportunity to declare that he was against “the Fudan project as planned” and not against China. According to him, his goal is to maintain good relations with both the Chinese government and the Chinese community in China. Budapest. protection of human rights when necessary, and I believe leaders from all political backgrounds should do so.