“The Fudan University affair is our first step in reclaiming Hungary from those in power,” Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said at a demonstration against the establishment of a local campus of China’s Fudan University in front of Parliament on Saturday.
Karácsony, who is running in the opposition’s prime ministerial primary, vowed to block the establishment of the Fudan University campus and to take action on any issue in which the government “favours the privileged 1% over the 99%”. “The biggest problem in Hungary today are those in power who don’t have any moral foresight,” the mayor said. “The Fudan affair is [ruling] Fidesz’s final and complete moral suicide,” he said. “Every word of theirs is a lie” and that “nothing is sacred to them”.
Karácsony said the issue around the Fudan University campus was about deciding whether “those who see politics as power rather than service should be allowed to rule Hungary”. “Can the country have a government that only values power?” “The Fudan issue is about whether this small country of 10 million can finally decide its own fate, about whether we will really be a free nation,” Karácsony said. The issue around the university made it “crystal clear that when this government talks about national sovereignty, it’s actually talking about its own sovereignty and its free rein to steal,” he insisted.
The mayor also criticised the government for refusing to take out a loan offered as part of the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery package, saying that they did not want to go into debt. “But they’ll go into debt whenever they have to … for Russian or Chinese interests,” he added.
Karácsony emphasised that the demonstration was not against China or the Chinese people, “although we are a world apart when it comes to human rights and democracy”. “But we have our own problem with dictators,” he added. The mayor said the demonstration had been organised in favour of the student quarter that was planned to be built in the same area as the Fudan University campus and against building a Chinese university from taxpayer money. Karácsony urged the public to participate in a consultation on the Fudan University project and the opposition’s primary election, and to support the eventual nominees in the 2022 general election.
The protesters gathered between Kodály Körönd and Heroes’ Square before making their way to Kossuth Square. The middle of the square was occupied by those with Covid-19 immunity certificates, while those without were cordoned off on the side of the square. Several opposition politicians also joined the demonstration.