TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A plan to build a satellite campus in Budapest, Hungary, for China’s Fudan University despite widespread opposition from the public drew a protest of over 10,000 people in the capital on Saturday (June 5).
The deal for the campus, negotiated by nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, relies on an approximately US$1.5 billion loan from a Chinese commercial bank, with an additional US$300 million to be furnished by the Hungarian state — more than the total sum the country spends on its universities every year, according to the BBC.
Construction will be carried out mostly by Chinese contractors, according to documents leaked to Hungarian media. In addition, the Fudan campus will sit on the site of another proposed project that had been aimed at supplying affordable housing for local students.
Located in Shanghai, China’s Fudan University is among the country’s top institutions of higher learning, though it does not crack the top 30 in most global rankings. Only 20 percent of Hungarians wish to see the Fudan campus built, according to a recent survey by Publicus Research, per the SCMP.
Orban’s government maintains the closest ties with China of any EU member state. His representatives in the European Parliament have repeatedly blocked statements condemning China’s human rights abuses, most recently in relation to Hong Kong’s national security law and changes to the city’s local elections.
Last week, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony, who seeks to challenge Orban in an upcoming prime ministerial election, announced that he would rename streets around the proposed Fudan campus after various Chinese human rights touchstones, with names such as Free Hong Kong Road, Dalai Lama Street, and Uyghur Martyrs’ Road.