Thousands of Hungarians demonstrated over the weekend against the establishment of a Hungarian branch of the Chinese Fudan University planned by the right-wing national government.

They criticized the fact that it was intended to finance a facility controlled by the Chinese Communist Party from Hungarian taxpayers' money.

There was also outrage that Fudan University was to be built on a site in Budapest that was originally intended for the construction of cheap student dormitories.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, chairman of the Fidesz party, has very good relations with Beijing and has already vetoed EU decisions critical of China.

The city of Budapest, led by the opposition, is against the project.

"The Fudan issue is Fidesz's final and utter suicide," said Mayor Gergely Karacsony at the rally in front of the parliament in Budapest.

The eco-liberal town hall chief is considered to be a likely challenger to Orbans in the parliamentary elections in 2022.

Karacsony made it clear that the protest was directed neither against China nor against the Chinese, but against Orban's curtailment of the freedom of science. He cited Orban's 2018 expulsion of the Central European University (CEU), which was funded by US philanthropist George Soros, and the political appropriation of the Budapest Theater University, which began in 2020, as examples.

Keywords: