Hungarian Lawmakers Vote To Donate State Land For Planned Chinese University.

BUDAPEST -- Hungary's parliament has approved a proposal to donate state land to build a controversial Chinese university in Budapest despite a storm of local protests and criticism that the government is getting overly cozy with Beijing.

Lawmakers of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party on June 15 voted overwhelmingly to donate several plots along the Danube River to the Fudan Hungary University Foundation.

That group will be in charge of the campus, which is slated to be built at a cost of around $1.8 billion at a site where affordable housing for Hungarian students had previously been planned.

The law requires the government to present the final plans of the project to parliament by the end of 2022, following a general election.

Orban said last week that the project would be put to a referendum .

The plan is unpopular in Budapest and nationally, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets of the capital this month to protest against it.

The decision to build the campus by 2024 using a $1.5 billion loan from a Chinese bank has raised concerns about the long-term impact of such a project on the country's higher-education system.

The government has argued that having a campus of the Shanghai-based Fudan University would allow Hungarian and international students to acquire high-quality qualifications.

But critics fear a lack of transparency and academic freedom.

Orban, who has notched three successive election landslides since 2010, faces stiff opposition for the first time in more than a decade, especially from Budapest's liberal mayor, Gergely Karacsony, who is eyeing a run against the right-wing nationalist in April 2022.

Earlier this month, Karacsony renamed streets surrounding the project site "Free Hong Kong Road", "Dalai Lama Road," and "Uyghur Martyrs Road" to highlight Chinese human rights sore points .

Orban has dismissed accusations that allowing a Chinese campus would open the door to greater influence for Beijing, which has also defended the project.

The Hungarian prime minister has built friendly ties with China, Russia, and other illiberal governments, while repeatedly clashing with the EU by curbing the independence of the Hungarian judiciary and media.

Orban's government this month blocked a proposed EU text criticizing Beijing's recent actions in Hong Kong, where it has dramatically boosted its reach on political and security affairs and cracked down hard on a major pro-democracy movement.

With reporting by Reuters

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Related news
Belarus Shuts Down More NGOs Amid Continued Crackdown.

Belarus Shuts Down More NGOs Amid Continued Crackdown.

Belarus has forced the closure of 15 more nongovernmental organizations as strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka's crackdown against pro-democracy activists, the independent media, and civil rights groups continues to intensify.

Radio Free Europe

Jailed Journalist Safronov Decries Russia's 'Spy-Making' System.

Jailed Journalist Safronov Decries Russia's 'Spy-Making' System.

Jailed former Russian journalist Ivan Safronov, who is charged with high treason, has slammed state authorities, including the judiciary, for their treatment of suspects and methods used in investigating espionage amid a wave of cases aimed at muz...

Radio Free Europe

Gutfeld: Our government created artificial danger

Gutfeld: Our government created artificial danger

'Gutfeld!' panel discusses the double standard in prosecuting criminals based on their political affiliation #Gutfeld #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-e...

Police fire tear gas & water cannon anti-vax protesters in Greece.

Police fire tear gas & water cannon anti-vax protesters in Greece.

Protesters and police clashed outside Athens parliament on Wednesday during a rally against coronavirus vaccinations. Demonstrators and officers could be seen exchanging blows before police sent volleys of tear gas into the crowd of about 1,500 pe...

Deadly flooding paralyzes Henan province in China - DW News.

Deadly flooding paralyzes Henan province in China - DW News.

At least 33 people have been killed in the severe flooding in central China's province of Henan, and more than 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. With more rain on the way, there are fears that the situation may get worse. Subscr...

Pollution Concerns In Florida Grow Over Return Of Big Cruise Ships.

Pollution Concerns In Florida Grow Over Return Of Big Cruise Ships.

Water around the Florida coast has been cleaner during the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of minimal pollution. NBC News' Josh Lederman takes an in-depth look to see what the cause might be. » Subscribe to MSNBC: MSNBC delivers breaking news, in-de...

Cuban Catholics feel 'betrayed' by the Pope: Rachel Campos-Duffy.

Cuban Catholics feel 'betrayed' by the Pope: Rachel Campos-Duffy.

'Fox & Friends Weekend' co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy says the Pope's response to the consequences of communism is 'weak and next to nothing.' Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a...

This Morning’s Top Headlines – July 22 - Morning News NOW.

This Morning’s Top Headlines – July 22 - Morning News NOW.

A Covid-19 "swat team" is deployed in Las Vegas to battle the rapidly spreading Delta variant, first lady Jill Biden arrives in Tokyo for the long-delayed 2020 Olympics, and an Arkansas judge blocks the state's ban on gender-affirming care for tra...