In Budapest, Xi Hails a ‘Deep Friendship’ With Hungary

President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday found another safe zone in a continent increasingly wary of his country, meeting in Budapest with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, the European Union’s perennial odd-man-out as a vocal supporter of warm relations with both China and Russia.

As happened at his previous stop in Serbia, Mr. Xi received a rapturous welcome and was spared from protesters, with his motorcade from the airport on Wednesday evening taking a roundabout route into the Hungarian capital, avoiding Tibetan protesters.

Police banned a protest planned for Thursday in the center of Budapest and a large Tibetan flag that had been hoisted on a hill overlooking the venue of a welcome reception was covered with a Chinese one.

In an article in Magyar Nemzet, which is controlled by Mr. Orban’s governing Fidesz party, Mr. Xi gushed about his “deep friendship” with Hungarian leaders and described Hungary as a trusted “traveling companion” on what he called a “golden voyage” that had taken relations to their “best period of history.” Hungary, he noted, was “the No. 1 target in the central Eastern European region for Chinese investment.”

The Chinese leader’s arrival in Budapest sealed Mr. Orban’s long, steady transformation from an anti-communist liberal firebrand once funded by the Hungarian-born American financier George Soros into one of the Chinese Communist Party leadership’s most fervent admirers and protectors in Europe.

Mr. Xi meeting Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the airport in Budapest on Wednesday, in a photo released by Mr. Orban’s office.Credit…Vivien Cher Benko/Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office
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