Tue, 15 Jun 2021

Thousands of Hungarians protested on June 5 against a Chinese university's plans to open a campus in Budapest.

The Fudan University campus, planned for completion in 2024, would be the first Chinese university in the European Union.

The campus is controversial because China is expected to give the Hungarian government a $1.5 billion loan to cover most costs of the project, which is slated to be built at a site where affordable housing for Hungarian students had previously been planned.

Critics also see the project as an avenue for Beijing to increase its influence in Hungary and the European Union.

Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban has built friendly ties with China, Russia, and other illiberal governments, while repeatedly clashing with the European Union by curbing the independence of the judiciary and media.

Orban's government argues that having a campus of the Shanghai-based university would allow Hungarian and international students to acquire high-quality qualifications, but critics fear a lack of transparency and academic freedom. The university is ranked 160th in the world and 7th best in China by U.S. News and World Report.

Budapest's liberal mayor, Gergely Karacsony, opposes the expensive project, arguing among other things that the university's charter requires it to represent the views of the Chinese Communist Party.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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