Despite the United States’ request, the Hungarian government will not join an international 5G-front that is against China. Although it would be a game-changer for Washington and the US Embassy in Budapest is putting pressure on them even in the Hungarian media, Hungary is about to stay out of the battle.
After asking the Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade (KKM) and the US Embassy in Budapest about the so-called 5G Clean Network Program, Index suggests that even if Hungarian-American relations have seemingly settled during the Trump era, a conflict between the two countries was predictable well before the election of Joe Biden.
The cold war between Washington and Beijing
The American government believes, if Chinese telecommunications corporations participate in the building of 5G infrastructure, the whole western world’s communication system will be compromised.
Washington launched its Clean Network international campaign that would guarantee the security of 5G networks even beyond US borders, in August. When talking in favour of the program, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the resigning Trump administration raised arguments against the Chinese government and the telecommunications giant Huawei.
According to the US, Chinese multinational companies like Huawei access information flow on the network by their 5G tools and then hand it to the government in Beijing.
It seems clear that the 5G Clean Network Program has become one of the frontlines of the cold war between Washington and Beijing and goes far beyond the security issue of the telecommunications infrastructure.
Strategic interests also depend on the success of the American program: if the US and its allies phase out of the market, not only will the western companies experience considerable financial losses, they will also fall back in the technology race – which could change the game of the great geopolitical chess.
Hungary did not join
So far, forty countries and fifty telecommunications companies have joined the 5G Clean Network Program, including twenty-seven NATO member states and market leader companies. They all dismiss tools suitable for intelligence gathering used by the Chinese Communist Party – explained the US Embassy to Index.
But Hungary decided to stay out of it, even though the Embassy tries to assert US interests even through communicational offensive. Content supporting the program have appeared both on ‘Nyugati pályán’ Facebook page and on ‘Szabad Európa’ news site; both funded by Washington. They also placed paid adverts about the dangers of the observer state of the Chinese Communist Party on mfor.hu and Válasz Online websites. Last April, an American diplomat also made it clear at a private event at the Hungarian University of Public Service (NKE), that Washington is watching the actions of Chinese 5G companies, and allies that go against American interests can even expect sanctions.
Hungary stands out on the map
At a press conference in October, Mike Pompeo Secretary of State presented what the 5G Clean Network Program accomplished so far, with an unambiguous message to the Hungarian Government. Washington’s Foreign Ministry published the graphics that was showed in the presentation representing the European states that have joined the program. Hungary – like an island – stands out being white and Slovenia is written on it with an arrow pointing to its actual direction.
On the other hand, Hungary’s relationship with China is blooming, according to Péter Szijjártó Hungarian Foreign Minister who listed several economic interests, for example that in the last ten years, five billion dollars-worth Chinese investments arrived to Hungary, and the companies that moved here employ fifteen thousand Hungarians. In addition to this, Huawei has opened another office in Hungary just less than a month ago.
When asked about any other possible interests influencing the governments’ decision, the KKM only said: “Hungary is open and provides a fair environment to law-abiding foreign investors. The decision regarding the possibility of joining the Clean Network initiative is made exclusively in the best interest of Hungary.”
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