Hungary To Host Chinese Vaccine Factory


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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy reporting from Budapest, Hungary

(Worthy News) – The Hungarian and Chinese governments have agreed to set up a factory in Hungary to produce the Chinese vaccine in a move expected to raise eyebrows within the European Union.

’s Sinopharm vaccine has not been approved by the ’s European Medicines Agency (EMA). However, Hungary said importing Chinese jabs has helped it to become the second most vaccinated EU member state after China.

Had Hungary’s government not purchased the vaccine from China’s Sinopharm firm, “the number of vaccinated Hungarians would be one million lower,” claimed Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and . Without Chinese jabs, “Hungary would not top the EU in terms of the inoculation rate, and it would not have made great strides towards normalcy,” he added.

Szijjártó also presented Wang with the Order of Merit of Hungary, Medium Cross with Star, one of Hungary’s highest honors, prompting fierce criticism by commentators. At the ceremony in China’s southern Guizhou province, Szijjártó said that Wang had proved his friendship with Hungary during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the opposition-leaning online Amerikai Magyar Népszava (American Hungarian Newspaper) commented:

“[Minister] Szijjártó made a pilgrimage to Beijing just to present one of Hungary’s highest honors to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for the Chinese vaccine, which offers the lowest protection, in most cases does not provide antibodies after two vaccinations, is not licensed according to any international standard, but is much more expensive.”

More than half of Hungary’s nearly 10 million people have been vaccinated, partly with Chinese and Russian coronavirus vaccines. In a controversial move, the government is allowing only vaccinated people or those who had to enter indoor facilities such as bars and restaurants with a so-called “immunization certificate.”

BAR CODE

The document can also be shown electronically on applications which include a bar code and the name of the person who was vaccinated.

Hungary’s government defended the measures saying nearly 30,000 people had died of COVID-19. Data reviewed by suggested that most were older adults with underlying conditions such as high blood pressure.

Szijjártó announced the factory after talks in China with the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. No more details were announced, but the factory was expected to be built as early as this year.

“Hungary and the People’s Republic of China have been strategic partners since 2017,” Wang said in remarks published by Hungary’s state news agency MTI.

“If anyone had any doubts, the past few months have proven how much Hungary has profited from the strategic cooperation … Its success can now be measured in terms of the number of human lives saved,” he added.

However, Hungary’s cooperation with China remains controversial, with EU leaders expressing concern about the Communist-run nations growing economic and political influence in Eastern and the Balkans.

ECONOMIC STORY

Yet, Szijjártó called economic cooperation “another success story,” noting that two major Chinese banks will soon appear in Hungary. He also said that several Hungarian firms have scored successes on the Chinese market.

on significant Chinese investments in electric car manufacturing and other projects in Hungary are underway, he added.

Hungary’s opposition has expressed concerns that those projects include China’s first university campus on EU soil that the government wants to host in Budapest.

Critics fear the planned $1.8 billion Fudan Hungary University, financed mainly by a Chinese loan, undermines affordable housing for students in the area and gives the Chinese Communist Party influence over higher learning.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been seeking other allies such as China amid tensions with the EU over his perceived autocratic policies.

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