Despite pressure from Washington, Hungary stands by Huawei

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The timing is excellent: while the Hungarian government, Huawei and the Chinese embassy in Budapest were celebrating together in Budapest, they decided to oust the Chinese telecommunications company in Stockholm. The Swedish Telecommunications Authority said on its website today that, for reasons of national security, the use of Chinese Huawei and ZTE products will be banned for companies participating in the 5G tender due next month.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of Huawei’s presence in Hungary.

– said the Foreign Minister, pointing out that Huawei is already bringing its third investment to Hungary on the occasion of the anniversary. In addition, the Chinese company will establish a research and development center in Budapest. The press event held in Haris Park, Budapest, also revealed that the R&D center will cover artificial intelligence and the innovation of media streaming technologies with the participation of about a hundred Hungarian engineers.

Recent press reports about Huawei are a good indication of the political turmoil surrounding the Chinese company. The background to the conflict is the rivalry between the United States and China. As early as 2012, Washington took steps to drive the Chinese company out of the U.S. market. Following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, and over the past nearly four years, Washington’s foreign affairs have expanded internationally, putting increasing pressure on Allied nations.

Central Europe was a key target in this. Mike Pompeo visited our area back in February last year; as it is
US Secretary of State in Budapest, so
He also warned of the dangers posed by Huawei in Bratislava and Warsaw. The U.S. action had consequences: an Huawei employee was arrested in Poland on suspicion of espionage, and in the Czech Republic, the cyber security agency confirmed Washington’s concerns in a report.

However, Hungary insists on the relationship between Huawei and China. Today, Szijjártó focused on the position of the Hungarian government, emphasizing the material impact of the relationship built ten years ago. As he said, with the strategy of opening to the East, Hungarian exports to the East have grown by 22 percent in ten years.

– the minister added, adding that in the last ten years, five billion dollars of Chinese investment has arrived in the country, and companies from here in the Far East employ 15,000 Hungarian workers.

In addition, it may be a political message that Huawei has opened an R&D center in Hungary this time. In the business policy of the Chinese company, the relocation of innovation centers, which are important for the local economy, has on several occasions been linked to political decisions. In 2019, for example, Huawei’s R&D centers were relocated from Australia and then the United States, citing an unpleasant political climate.

At the request of the Index, Ágnes Szunomár, a Chinese expert, said that the Hungarian government had been lobbying the Chinese company for years to locate higher value activities in the global production chain.

Said the expert. According to Sunomar, the Chinese company’s decision may have been due to the narrowing of international opportunities. “Innovation is always taken where it has a base,” he says, meaning that multis are looking for countries where higher education is prepared. for cooperation for such an activity. The expert said that a few years ago, citing the lack of this, Huawei refused the Hungarian government’s request to do so.

(Cover image: Attila Trenka / Index)

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