The international press is once again filled with Hungarian news: Gergely Karácsony, the lord mayor of Budapest, and Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of the 9th district, have renamed streets near the planned location of the Chinese University. A demonstration will be held this Saturday.
“We still hope the project won’t happen but if it does then it will have to put up with these names.”
The Budapest mayor claims in his Facebook post that these plaques bear the names of the individuals and ethnic groups who were persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party. Though renaming the streets was a domestic political move on the part of the opposition mayors, according to Gergely Salát, a sinologist and head of the department at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, it could have an immense foreign policy impact. He told Blikk that
“It might seem like a witty campaign at first glance, but the Chinese will not find it funny.”
For them, the Dalai Lama, the Uyghur separatists, or the Hong Kong protesters are not the enemies of the Communist Party or the regime but of the entire Chinese nation. The expert adds that due to the Chinese state-controlled media, these street names are probably incomprehensible to the average Chinese.
Pro-government officials have clearly condemned the move. According to the faction of Fidesz and KDNP, Krisztina Baranyi cannot rename a public area in Budapest because it is the sole competence of the Budapest General Assembly, reports 24.hu.
According to the Guardian,
“the project of the university has fed growing unease about Hungary’s diplomatic tilt from west to east and its soaring indebtedness to China.”
Opinion polls suggest that the people of Budapest are opposed to the Fudan University moving there. More than 5,000 people have indicated their intention to participate in the event called the “Demonstration for the Student City, against Fidesz!“, planned for this Saturday.
According to Zsolt Semjén, the Deputy Prime Minister, the protesters should be thankful to the government that it is even possible to hold a demonstration. He told Telex that without the government’s successful vaccine policy and the Chinese and Russian vaccines, it would not be possible.
Under the current restrictions, a maximum of five hundred people can attend outdoor events. A larger event could only be held if it is attended exclusively by those protected against the virus. Telex claims that the demonstration will be held anyway.