In recent media, the most attention-grabbing China-related news has been vaccination, Fudan University, Chinese credit, Chinese investments in Hungary, and the Russian-Chinese relationship. In recent years, China has become Hungary’s partner in more and more fields, and China has also gained a more important role in domestic public discourse.
The news about China in Hungary is experienced very differently in the political camps, but overall, China’s perception in the press improved greatly in 2020 in part due to the coronavirus vaccine – said Tamás Matura, China expert, assistant professor at Corvinus University, to vászős.hu, who we asked about the latest research results published on the subject at the university’s China conference.
At the moment, the media, which are usually considered to be close to the government, paint a much more positive picture of China, while the media, which are usually thought to be close to the opposition or independent, paint a much more negative picture of China.
– explained Tamás Matura.
He pointed out that in the media close to the government, it is not primarily about praising China, rather they praise the Hungarian government’s China policy, which indirectly leads to a more positive image of China emerging among those who consume this content.
In the Hungarian public opinion, as a result of the above phenomenon, there was a change in the way of seeing China
– he said.
While in a 2020 research we saw that nearly half of the population had a negative opinion of China and only a quarter had a positive opinion of it, by then this proportion seems to have reversed. Based on the representative research we conducted with the Median Institute, half of the public has a more positive view of China he listed.
The positive PR effect of vaccines vs. Chinese support for the Russian invasion
The reason for this is primarily to be found in China’s activities in Hungary during the pandemic, let’s think here either of masks or vaccines. This is because the Hungarian government media set it up as if this was a generous help from China. Meanwhile, of course, Hungary paid for these products. Nevertheless, it was widely appreciated by the public and improved China’s image.
When asked who held Hungary together during the epidemic, 43 percent of survey participants said the European Union, 40 percent said China, and 32 percent said Russia. By comparison, it received only 16 percent in the United States.
Russia, which is very important, has also improved its perception during the coronavirus
Regardless of this, there is still great polarization within society on this topic. While the acceptance of the Far Eastern great power among pro-government voters can be as high as 60-70 percent, anti-China has strengthened among non-government voters.
The strengthening of cooperation between China and Russia in recent years was considered a positive phenomenon by 40 percent of the respondents, while slightly more, 4 percent, believed that it was a negative process.
– However, it is important to point out that this survey was made before the Russian invasion reached its peak, so public opinion in this area has changed a lot since then – he added.
In the EU, the Chinese are building 5G only here
Among the joint projects running with China, Tamás Matura singled out the intermodal center in Lunsklitke, as well as Fudan University, as well as cooperation with Chinese universities.
An intermodal logistics center connected to a railway transshipment was built in Fényeslitké in Eastern Hungary, where railway trains are received as part of the New Silk Road project.
Its special feature is the local 5G network jointly built by Vodafone and Huawei, with the help of which they were able to significantly automate the logistics center.
By the way, in Hungary, the European 5G network was built by the Chinese Huawei in a unique way in the Union, which clearly shows how important Hungarian-Chinese bilateral relations are at the moment.Regarding the cooperation with the Chinese university, he said that many universities in Hungary have cooperation with Chinese universities.
Based on 2020 data, 2,800 Chinese students studied in Hungary. After the coronavirus epidemic, this number may have decreased somewhat, he said.
There is little trust in the Chinese media
The Corvinus survey examined the perception of China in Hungary from several points of view:
- Chinese investments in domestic infrastructure,
- The perception of Beijing in the domestic media
- how they see the role of the Chinese within the elite, respectively
- The strength of China’s influence in higher education.
The opinion of China in the regional press is divided in relation to several key issues: the war in Ukraine, Russian-Chinese relations, the opinion of North Korea, but
On the issue of Taiwan and Tibet, there is the greatest opinion among individual social groups.
Within the elite, they examined the perception of China and the Hungarian-Chinese relations based on four main aspects – politics, the economy, higher education and the media. The essence of the main findings:
– Regarding Russian-Chinese relations, the most critical was the assessment of China.
– There is a relatively positive attitude towards the expansion of Hungarian-Chinese economic relations.
– According to the interviewees, one of the main issues in the assessment of China was the tolerance of the advantages inherent in China’s economic opportunities and the restriction of freedom provided by the political system.
– While the reception of scientific cooperation opportunities in the field of higher education is positive, the reception of the Fudan University in Budapest provoked strong criticism. Among the European countries, German and Polish universities have established the most scientific cooperation with Chinese universities.
– In the media field, there is still little trust in the credibility of Chinese news channels
– In the expansion of economic relations, the best thing to do in terms of Chinese investments is to judge China better at home.
– China’s role in the highly important domestic infrastructure is important in several areas: e-finance, financial structure (Bank of China), railway construction, and telecommunications (e.g. building 5G).
– With the cooperation of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, the fifth generation (5G) network will be built in Hungary – Péter Szijjártó will install it at the end of 2019.
– Hungary and Serbia signed a 5G agreement with Huawei, i.e. only in our country within the EU. It is building the 5G network with the cooperation of the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania, as well as the Republic of the Baltic States.
– Huawei solar panels are used by the domestic population in an increasing proportion, there is also a risk in this, because the devices can be switched off in the event of a hacker attack.