China's Xi in Hungary celebrates 'history's best' relations with Orban

President Xi Jinping vowed to deepen already flourishing economic ties with Hungary during a visit to Budapest on Thursday, advocating that its closest European Union ally "play a bigger role" in fostering relations between Beijing and the bloc.

The state visit to Hungary is the final leg of Xi's first European tour since 2019 that led him to France and Serbia earlier this week.

Following a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday afternoon, Xi said Beijing placed "great importance" on its relations with the EU.

The Chinese leader also called on Hungary, which takes over the bloc's rotating presidency in the second half of the year, to "play a bigger role in the EU and push for new and greater development of China-EU relations".

Amid divisions with the West over the Ukraine war and global trade, both leaders stressed their shared views and demonstrated their close ties, announcing that 18 bilateral agreements had been signed.

Budapest was decked out with Chinese flags for the state visit and placed under tight security. The few flags held up by Tibetan demonstrators were hidden from Xi's sight.

 18 agreements 

Earlier on Thursday, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were received with military honours by Hungary's President Tamas Sulyok in the lavish courtyard of Budapest's presidential palace.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, Xi said that the bilateral "relationship is now at its "best in history".

Frequently at loggerheads with Brussels, Orban has pursued an eastwards foreign policy since his return to power in 2010, seeking closer economic ties with Russia, China and other Asian countries.

The nationalist premier remained...

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