Orban’s passion for China and electric cars

If the electric car and China represent the two biggest dangers to our companies and our workers, according to Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini, one of their main allies in Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is moving in the opposite direction. Yes, because Hungary may soon become one of the main manufacturers of batteries for electric vehicles on the continent. And that’s thanks to Beijing’s generous investments. He is the person with whom the Budapest leader, who is among the new “heroes” of the Italian right, has increasingly close relations.

Chinese cars, Hungarian workers

According to the newspaper report politicalThe Hungarian government will be close to signing a deal with Chinese automaker BYD to host the company’s first European facility in the country. The facility will be added to facilities announced in 2023 by other Chinese companies such as Catl, Eve Energy, Ningbo Zhenyu Technology, Nio and Huayou Cobalt.

Some of these, such as the company run by Eve Energy, will supply batteries to Germany’s BMW, which has long had a strong manufacturing presence in the Hungarian country. According to some reconstructions, it seems that it was precisely the intense synergy between Berlin and Budapest’s automotive industry that prompted Chancellor Olaf Scholz to reach an agreement with the Hungarian leader so as not to hinder the start of negotiations on Kiev’s accession to the EU. (and open the taps in Brussels so that 10 billion frozen community funds reach Orbán’s coffers).

For years, Hungary has focused on the automotive industry as the driving force of its economy: we are talking about 6% of GDP, while external suppliers represent 8-9%. As mentioned, there is a significant portion of German production, but there are also South Korean, Japanese and even Chinese factories investing heavily in electric vehicle production. While the qualified but still low-cost Hungarian workforce attracts the attention of world giants, the country represents an important entry point for the European market.

From Beijing with love

Moreover, China has been the main foreign investor in Hungary since 2020. But the government in Budapest wants to further strengthen the economic bond with Beijing, from a perspective called “opening to the east” policy (this formula isEastern Policy It was opened by German Chancellor Willy Brandt). Last summer, Budapest Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó went so far as to claim that both unbundling and de-risking from the Dragon economy would amount to “suicide for the European economy.”

The Hungarian Prime Minister was the only EU leader to attend the China Silk Road forum (or BRI, short for the British Belt and Road Initiative) in Beijing last October, and was recognized as a “friend of China” by none other than President Xi. Jinping himself. Less than two months later, EU leaders went to China’s capital to raise their voices on free competition and trade balance, and they actually caused a stir.

In short, in the words of Dóra Győrffy, professor of economics at Corvinus University in Budapest, it is a real “bridgehead” (or a Trojan horse for those who want it) for China’s interests in the Old Continent. political. Moreover, as with the Russians: dynamics that give Beijing and Moscow great leverage to blackmail Brussels or at least undermine the unity of the Twenty-Seven. And so we have now seen how, from negotiations on Ukraine to sanctions on China over human rights, Orbán’s vetoes regularly prevent Europe from taking a unified stance on issues that directly concern the leaders of Russia and China.

view from rome

In fact, Hungary is one of the few EU countries still covered by the BRI; The Meloni government recently abandoned this project after Rome stepped in in 2019. At the time it was led by Giuseppe Conte, but one of the two deputy prime ministers of the then League’s secretary, Matteo Salvini, holds the same post today.

After approving the criminal memorandum four years ago, the leader of the Northern League is now among the most vocal supporters of the anti-Beijing front, which opposes, above all, the European side’s acquisition of the Chinese tech hub. to the ecological transition such as solar panels, batteries and electric cars.

But at the same time, both Salvini and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni are allies in Europe of Viktor Orbán, who is doing everything to neutralize attempts (including Italian ones) to gradually alienate the Old Continent from Chinese power.

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Source: Today IT