Hungary becomes first European country to join China’s Silk Road project
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Saturday signed a cooperation agreement for China’s “One Belt, One Road” project, initiated to develop trade and transport infrastructure across Asia and Europe.
Hungary hopes to strengthen the two countries’ relationship and speed up the construction of the Hungarian-Serbian railway, which China has helped to finance and build.
Szijjarto told reporters that “Cooperation between the two countries has never been as good or as effective as now” and that Hungary seeks to become the regional hub for China’s activities in Europe.
This move will likely encourage other European nations to join the initiative as well. Cui Hongjia, director of the China Institute of International Studies’ Department for European Studies, told SCMP: “While the initiative is highly attractive to many countries, they are concerned about what the concrete cooperation plans will be … They now have a model to follow”.
China aims to recreate a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road under what’s formally known as the “One Belt, One Road” project. President Xi Jinping believes trade with the project’s participants will generate US$2.5 trillion in a decade.
The new silk road, according to a recently released map, will run through Central China to northern Xinjiang, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Istanbul and into Germany, Netherlands and Italy. The Maritime Silk Road will begin in China’s Fujian and end in Venice, Italy.
The project will also help boost the China-led Asian Infrastrucutre Investment Bank (AIIBB) to encourage more nations to either invest in or apply for loans from the bank in the future.
Other projects under the plan include highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links across Asia and extending to Greece, Russia and Oman.