According to the announcement made by Secretary of State (Minister of Foreign Affairs) Antony Blinken, in the upcoming four years, the United States will pay special attention to the rule of law, Russia, China, and sexual minorities – issues that can be problematic for Hungary.
When the Hungarian-American Antony Blinken was appointed Secretary of State of the USA last November, we already wrote about what this can mean for Hungary and for American-Hungarian relations, whether it puts the country into an advantageous position or not. It is still a question of the future; however, in the half-an-hour-long speech he delivered on Wednesday, he presented the foreign relation objectives of the Biden administration. Here we have the details that concern Hungary.
Blinken refers to the report made by the independent watchdog group called Freedom House which he calls sobering, writes Blikk.hu.
“Authoritarianism and nationalism are on the rise around the world. Elections are increasingly flash-points for violence. Corruption is growing.”
The aforementioned report says that in Hungary, democracy has ceased to exist and was replaced by a “hybrid regime”
which maintains the appearance of democracy but is actually authoritarianism. The fact that Blinken refers to the report made by this organisation means that he accepts what is stated in it. What is more, in October, Biden,
the now-President himself, called PM Viktor Orbán’s government authoritarian.
Sticking with democracy, he goes on saying that it will not be promoted by expensive military interventions or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force, as they had tried these in the past but failed. This can be important as many people fear – while others hope – that the Biden administration would try to interfere in Hungary’s internal affairs as the country’s strong ties to Russia and China go against the interests of the USA and NATO. Blinken here says that
they will use the power of example and try to convince these countries to fight corruption, stand against injustice, and change poor laws.
According to the Secretary, many countries present a serious challenge, such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea, but China is especially emphasised.
“China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system – all the rules, values, and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to… .”
For this reason, according to Blinken, the relationship with the Far Eastern country will be competitive, collaborative, and adversarial all at the same time. This statement makes it very obvious that
the most important question for the USA when it comes to Hungary will be the country’s relation to China.
Already under the Trump administration, China was regarded as a major adversary.
Now, one of the sources of conflict could be the Budapest-Belgrade rail-line which will be built with the help of 1 billion forints (over 2.7 million euros) and a Chinese loan.
Another issue is quite recent, actually: it is the case of the Budapest Campus of the Fudan University said to open in 2024, for which the Hungarian government provides the property in the value of 800 million forints (2.1 million euros) to build the campus on. Even if the new campus does not serve as the Chinese spy centre, as many people think, it will still be hard to forget for the USA that the Budapest campus of CEU had to leave the country.
In his speech, Blinken points out that they will need the support of their allies and partners to stand against China.
As Hungary is referred to as an ally and partner of the US, it is almost sure that pressure will be put on the Hungarian government to decrease the intensity of Chinese interests flowing into the country.
Politics and Hungary’s relations with other countries is not the only issue Blinken talks passionately about. He once again states that they stand firmly behind their commitment to human rights and will stand up to injustice toward women and girls, LGBTQI people, religious minorities, and people of all races and ethnicities.
As opposed to his words, the Hungarian constitution was modified last December stating that the mother is female and the father is male. Moreover, for an unmarried couple, adopting a child became much harder, let alone the situation of LGBTQI people living in Hungary who have been fighting hard against discrimination. As the Biden administration builds quite strongly on these values and beliefs, the issue may come up on several occasions when it comes to American-Hungarian relations.