The opposition is doing what they can to protest against the Chinese communist mega-university in Budapest.
There is not much they can do.
- Free Hong Kong Street
- Uighur Martyrs Street
- Dalai Lama Street
The above mentioned streets cluster around an abandoned area in Budapest destined to become the location of
- a new Chinese, communist mega-university, OR
- student housing for Hungarian students – depending whom you ask.
The Orbánist government is dead set on cementing in the Hungarian campus of China’s Fudan university while the anti-Orbánist leadership of the district is hell-bent on keeping it as it was originally planned: housing for local students.
Orbánists may have have lost the municipal elections in 2019, but they are determined to make Fudan happen in Budapest. The mega-investment is not even financed by the Chinese communist party whose ideology Fudan is explicitly spreading.* It will be financed by a loan from China – the classic MO of Chinese influence operations in third world countries and Hungary. Hungarian taxpayer debt to China now matches our exposure to Russia – way above ten billion dollars each – also brought upon by the Orbán-government with the help of white elephant projects that can never turn a benefit. To the country, that is. And they want to make sure those projects happen even if they have to leave government.
There have been farcical “negotiations” with the opposition leadership of Budapest and the district, but the government’s side never actually keeps their promises so the time for negotiations have ended, even according to the legendarily lame and forgiving Budapest mayor.
So now is the time for trolling – with the last bits of power they have: renaming the streets to infuriate Chinese state censors who won’t want their future party commissars get their ideological and spy education on a street named after the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The public is seriously unimpressed by the plans. Needless to say, Budapest residents are overwhelmingly against it – but even even two third of the nationwide public is against it. And that includes a third of Fidesz voters, which is huge because normally they make themselves love whatever terrible thing Orbán tells them to love. They managed to warm to Russia after decades of devastating economic and military occupation, to a new Russian nuclear power station (on an 11-billion loan from Putin, of course), and even a completely pointless, 10-billion dollar railway track between Budapest and Belgrade that could only turn profitable in around 2400 years if traffic quadruples, nothing goes wrong and no maintenance is needed until then.
The government, on their side, have removed every tool Budapest and the district had against Fudan: they put the project outside the scope of a referendum, they removed the building permission rights of local authorities, they put the foundation into which Fudan will be wrapped into the constitution and outside the jurisdiction of any state authority, ever. (That is similar to the infamous Russian spy bank that received all but full sovereignty from Orbán, in the heart of Budapest.)
And if the local authority renames the streets around the construction site, the government will take away local authorities’ right to name streets. And the saga continues…
Featured image: Guanghua Tower of Fudan University, Shanghai (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
* In December 2019, Fudan University changed its charter, removing the phrase “academic independence and freedom of thought” and included a “pledge to follow the Communist party’s leadership”, leading to protests among the students. It also said that Fudan University had to “equip its teachers and employees” with “Xi Jinping Thought”, leading to concerns about the diminishing academic freedom of Fudan. (Asia Times)