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Budapest, Hungary (AP) — Thousands of people rallyed in the Hungarian capital on Saturday to oppose Prime Minister Victor Orban’s plan to establish a Chinese university in Budapest.
The strategic agreement Hungary has signed with Shanghai-based Fudan University envisions opening branch schools in the city’s nine wards. The plan is for the Budapest campus to be completed by 2024. This campus accepts international students, is the school’s only foreign former 2post base, and represents the first Chinese university campus in the EU in 27 countries.
Protesters marched from Heroes’ Square to the Hungarian Parliament in opposition to a pandemic ban on a rally of more than 500 people. The crowd hung up banners, flags and posters stating “No Fudan”.
Budapest authorities are opposed to the idea of a university branch. They claim that the $ 1.9 billion project puts a heavy burden on taxpayers and sends the wrong political message because of alleged human rights abuses in China.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony projected behind him a huge photo of a protester facing work at Tiananmen Square in Beijing during a Saturday demonstration. On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops fired at protesters in the square, killing hundreds, and perhaps thousands.
“Let’s clarify who we are not protesting,” Karakony said. “We have a dictatorship problem … and we are not at all protesting the Chinese who live in peace with us in this wonderful city.”
“What we want is a student city,” added Karácsony. “What we don’t want is a 500 billion forint (€ 1.45 billion, $ 1.6 billion) Chinese elite university paid from taxpayer money. It’s just as easy.”
Right-wing populist Olban faces criticism from the European Union for his authoritarian practices and decisive anti-immigrant position, fostering a closer relationship between Russia and China.
Hungarian officials claim that Fudan University, which ranks among the top 100 universities in the world, will help improve the level of higher education in Hungary. However, the connection between the university and the Chinese Communist Party has caused the anger of liberal-oriented Hungarians.
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Hungary: Protests Plans to Build University Branch in China | WGN Radio 720
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