According to the Prime Minister, we have arrived at a cusp between historical eras: the old model for globalisation – built on the assumption that money, profit and technological know-how are in the West, flowing “from there to less developed, eastern countries” – has lost its impetus.
This has changed in recent decades, he said, and especially over the past ten years: the global economy’s engine room is no longer in the West, but in the East. More precisely, “the East has caught up with the West”, he explained: with regard to their level of technological development Eastern enterprises are no longer behind the West, and “in fact the largest amounts of money have accumulated in Asia”, and “are now flowing back towards the West”.
What is also being seen in the Hungarian economy, the Prime Minister continued, is that over the past year or two large American and European companies have been bought up by Chinese enterprises, leading to a sharp increase in the number of Hungarian development projects that are now Chinese-owned. He added that “This movement of capital is totally different to what we have been used to, and to what we have been taught about how the global economy operates”.
Mr. Orbán also spoke about the fact that a large part of the world has also had enough of the old form of globalisation, because it divided the world into two halves: teachers and students. It has become increasingly offensive, he said, that a few developed countries have been continuously lecturing most of the world on human rights, democracy, development and the market economy.
For this reason, the strongest of those who have had enough of this – China – has launched “another direction of movement”, which it has called “One Belt, One Road”, and which is specifically built on mutual acceptance. “There is no teacher and no student”, and everyone has the right to their own social structure, culture, approach and values, he said, quoting the President of China.
We should not be striving to change each other or to form separate alliances, but to accept each other the way we are, and instead link these countries, nations and economies, the Prime Minister said.
With regard to its economic content, he said that the One Belt, One Road forum in Beijing was therefore primarily concerned with creating the conditions for maritime trade, the construction of railway lines, aerodromes and bridges, the development of road networks and the modern linking of the peoples who live along the former Silk Road.
On the subject of his bilateral talks during his visit to Beijing, Mr. Orbán explained that he had held talks with the Chinese head of state, the Premier, the Speaker of the House and investors, and in the course of these meetings important agreements were concluded – primarily of an economic and financial nature. The Prime Minister said that the “most spectacular” of these agreements is the modernisation of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line, the financial conditions of which were also discussed.
This means that the public procurement tenders can soon be made public and construction work on the project can begin. In addition, he said, an agreement was concluded on China Exim Bank and the Hungarian Development Bank mobilising Chinese capital to assist Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises and Chinese enterprises investing in Hungary.
The Prime Minister said that the bilateral talks had therefore led to successful agreements on the creation of many new jobs and major value in the national economy.
Mr. Orbán told reporters that he had also met President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was also attending the One Belt, One Road forum. The Prime Minister told Mr. Erdogan that “We will always show Turkey respect, especially as European security – including Hungary’s security – is greatly dependent on Turkey, because today Turkey is a stable country that is capable of preventing illegal migration”. The Prime Minister added that “properly maintaining” Hungarian-Turkish relations is therefore one of Hungary’s most important national security interests.
Mr. Orbán also spoke about his meeting with Mongolian prime minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat, in relation to which he drew attention to the great opportunities inherent in cooperation between the two countries. At the moment, however, there is currently “no significant economic activity”, he said, despite the fact that the two countries’ friendship, common history and legends on the origin of the Hungarian people form excellent foundations for this.
The Prime Minister said he had also met EU leaders and the President of Russia – although not as part of official talks. The Prime Minister and President Putin had a long conversation on global politics and economic issues, he said, but “we had no need to discuss Hungarian-Russian relations”, because the most important issue – the Paks Nuclear Power Plant project – is moving forward well and on schedule.
In closing, the Prime Minister reacted to criticism from the Hungarian opposition related to him laying a wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes on Tiananmen Square. He said that “there is no cure for stupidity”, and that “Up to now in Hungarian politics there has been a consensus agreed to by both the left and the right: when visiting […] China people have never been criticised for laying wreaths at the country’s memorial to its heroes”. He added that “I was following a tradition begun by [former President of the Republic] Árpád Göncz”, and at that time the right did not criticise him.
According to the Prime Minister, Hungary’s left-wing opposition should behave similarly, because it is also in Hungary’s interests to develop excellent relations with China. “I believe that such issues –including symbolic issues – must always be approached from the perspective of Hungarian national interests, just as Árpád Göncz did previously”, he said, noting that he could also cite as examples the King and Prime Minister of Belgium: “If for them the gesture was not unworthy, why should it be an unworthy one for the Hungarian prime minister?”