The current Hungarian government wanted to maintain a good relationship with the East both politically and economically. Hence, they conducted negotiations on mutual projects and one of the possibilities of working together was implementing the Fudan University’s new campus project.
Back in the summer of 2021, the prospect of building a new Budapest campus for the renowned Fudan University stirred up a lot of emotions. On one hand, it seemed like a great opportunity for both Hungarian and Chinese students and educators, but on the other, there were quite a few things the political opposition of the current government criticised.
Among these, the main reason was that the Fudan campus was set to be built at a location that was originally reserved for a so-called “student town”, an area planned for dormitories that would have housed hundreds of college students studying at Budapest universities.
To express their opinion about the matter, the Mayor of Budapest and others organised a demonstration in the capital. In addition, the mayor decided to rename the streets in the area where the Chinese university campus was planned to be built.
The Budapest mayor claimed in his Facebook post that these street plaques bear the names of individuals and ethnic groups that were persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party, thus jabbing at the government’s affiliation with the East.
Since then, the Hungarian Chinese community has sent a letter to the mayor of the district in which they asked her to change the names in order to maintain a good relationship between Hungary and China.
They explained that the community finds it hard to meet the expectations of host Hungary and motherland China. They were also afraid that economic relations between Hungary and China would develop in the wrong direction due to the consequences of the project, 24.hu wrote earlier this month.
Telex reported one of the latest developments regarding the case. According to the news outlet, the district mayor, Krisztina Baranyi has asked the Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt, best known for his work the Pillar of Shame, to exhibit the iconic sculpture in Budapest where the Fudan University is planned to be built.
The Pillar of Shame is eight metres tall depicting twisted human bodies and was first erected in Hong Kong in 1997 protesting China’s crackdown on the Tianmen Square protests of 1989.
According to the information of the news site, the sculpture can be seen from 2nd March for two weeks at Szabad Hongkong út (Free Hong Kong Road). It is said that the artist Jens Galschiøt himself would also visit Budapest.
Ymlp writes that Jens Galschiøt, has issued the following statement in connection with the exhibition of his work in Ferencváros:
“I hope that this artistic manifestation will show China that the Hungarian people will not tolerate an education policy that is under the influence of one of the largest totalitarian countries in the world. A country that in no way shares the values of Europe and Hungary.
A country that has both killed their student movement in 1989 and a country that has just crushed the Hong Kong student movement and put thousands of students in jail for defending their right to democracy and freedom of speech.
One would think that precisely Hungary with their historical references, where after 2 World Wars and being a subject to totalitarian Soviet supremacy had had enough of dictators.
It seems almost absurd that the government is now voluntarily giving a new totalitarian regime influence in the country. Instead of this, Hungarian students at the Hungarian universities should learn about democracy and debate how the world is developing.
Hungary should know better – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”
Source: Telex.hu, ymlp.com, berlingske.dk, Daily News Hungary