Several thousand people took to protest on Saturday in the Hungarian capital against the decision of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to host a Chinese university in Budapest.
A strategic agreement signed by Hungary with Shanghai Fudan University provides for the opening of a branch in the 9th arrondissement (sub division) of the city. According to plans, the construction of the campus should be completed by 2024. If constructed, it will be the first Chinese university campus in the European Union.
As per the government, the Fudan, which is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, will help raise the standard of higher education in Hungary, providing courses to 6,000 Hungarians annually. It will also bring in Chinese investment.
The Budapest mayor Gergely Karacsony opposed the university construction saying that the university charter requires that it represent the world view of the Chinese Communist Party.
The cost of hosting the Fudan University is estimated to be about $1.8 billion. The Hungarian government is to spend 20% of the project from its central budget, and the rest through a $1.5 billion loan from a Chinese bank. The construction will be carried out using mostly Chinese materials and labor.
Protesters marched from Heroes’ Square to the Hungarian Parliament building, violating a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people due to the coronavirus. The crowd carried flags and posters that read “No to Fudan”.
Hungarian liberals say that it will send the wrong political message over alleged human rights violations in China over the Uyghur conflict. Uyghurs are a Turkic people living in China. Western countries accuse China of genocide, which the Chinese side rejects.