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Thousands protest in Budapest against the planned campus of a Chinese university

Thousands of people took to the streets in Budapest on Saturday against the planned construction of a Chinese campus in the Hungarian capital. Around 10,000 demonstrators took part in the protest march, as an AFP photographer reported. The background to this are plans by the right-wing conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to establish a branch of the Chinese Fudan University in Budapest.

The protesters held banners that read "No Fudan!" and accused Orbán of being too close to the Chinese government. According to an agreement between Hungary and the President of Shanghai University, a currently fallow plot of land in Budapest will house the Fudan campus by 2024. The plan is to build a 500,000 square meter university complex.

The major project for the first European campus at Fudan University has caused a sensation in both Hungary and the EU. Brussels fears Hungary's slow departure from the EU as it turns more and more to China.

Opinion polls show that a majority of Budapest residents reject the campus plans. The mayor of the Hungarian capital, Gergely Karacsony, is also a staunch opponent of the project. As a sign of protest, he had several streets around the planned campus renamed - including “Dalai Lama Street”, “Street of the Uyghur Martyrs” and “Hong Kong Freedom”.

The new street names refer to issues for which Beijing has been heavily criticized abroad for human rights violations, in particular how it deals with Tibet, Hong Kong and the Muslim Uyghur minority in the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang. The Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted indignantly to the step of the Budapest mayor and called his behavior "contemptible".

Source: 24 Matins
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