The Hungarian government has been working on its relationships with the East and has thus been conducting negotiations, discussions, and financial agreements with China. Recently, the Hungarian government seems to have invited one of the best universities in the world, the renowned Fudan University, to build a new campus in Budapest, and there have been a few developments regarding the plans since our previous article.
According to 444, the Orbán government has been working together with China on more and more projects, such as the Budapest-Belgrade railway line, which is worth HUF 700 billion (€2 billion), the tender for which was won by Chinese governmental firms, together with one of the ties of Lőrinc Mészáros. Moreover, last year, when the pandemic hit, the Hungarian government purchased many protective equipment and ventilators from China, probably at a high price, and Hungary was also the first European country to use the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.
Originally, the roots of the agreement lied with the Central Bank of Hungary as the president of the Central Bank of Hungary negotiated possible cooperation between the Fudan University and Hungary as early as 2017, during the Chinese-Hungarian financial forum in Shanghai. Now, according to recent news and documents uncovered by Direkt36,
the Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology put forward a contract in which a construction company closely related to the Chinese government, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), is to conduct the construction of the new campus of the Chinese Fudan University.
According to 444, there are several red flags about this investment concerning the building process of Fudan University’s campus. One such red flag or rather a concern is that since the charter of Fudan University was altered in 2019, the points concerning freedom of thought and research were changed to a declaration of allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party. This might place communist and socialist views above the transfer of knowledge, and there is fear that the Chinese institution might spy on its students and professors.
This is not the only worrying reason, however. Back in 2017, the Ethiopian headquarters of the African Union reported suspicious data spikes in unusual hours, says 444. After checking the building, authorities found that every night, the data on the Ethiopian servers was copied to another server based in Shanghai, and they also uncovered voice recording devices in tables and walls within the building. As it is known, the building was a gift from the Chinese government to Africa and was constructed by the same company that is going to build the Fudan University Campus in Hungary.
In other accounts, CSCEC is suspected of cartellisation, fictitious costs, construction quality issues, and general corruptness.
It seems that the Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology has made a contract with the construction company that not only did not require an open tender but also stated that the planning is a Hungarian-Chinese collaboration; however, the implementation of said project can only be fulfilled by the Chinese, and it has to reach a status where it cannot be cancelled, reports Direkt36.
Apart from all these suspicious signs and deals, the Hungarian government seems to have gone ahead with the project anyway. The area of 520,000 square metres was previously designated to the Budapest Diákváros project and would have provided housing for 8-10,000 university students and teachers.
According to the contract, the CSCEC undertakes the construction work for only HUF 338 billion (€ ~1 billion) even though the Hungarian calculations were much higher, HUF 540 billion (€1.48 billion). This is a huge investment from the Hungarian government as, according to some sources, it exceeds the annual operating cost of the entire higher education system of Hungary, which was around HUF 486 billion (€1.33 billion) in 2019.
The Hungarian government provides the plot and an initial HUF 100 billion (€274 million), and the rest would be taken out as a loan from the Chinese government, 444 said, but the CSCEC insists that the resources and human labour should be Chinese or imported from China, similarly to the Budapest-Belgrade railway modernisation.