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INTERVIEW/Hungarian MP advocates Taiwan as better alternative to China

05/13/2024 06:51 PM
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Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Hungarian Member of Parliament Tompos Márton said he considers Taiwan a better alternative to China as a strategic partner in a Sunday interview with CNA.

Also the vice president of the opposition Momentum Party, Márton draped a Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) flag across his shoulders to protest Chinese President Xi Jinping's (習近平) visit to the capital city of Budapest on Thursday, and subsequently openly voiced support for Taiwan on social media.

He told CNA that he wanted to remind the world that there were alternatives to China, and that "Taiwan has proven to be a very significant and very reliable partner."

He pointed out that Taiwan has invested in Central and Eastern European countries, including a Giant bicycle factory in Hungary.

Having attended many Taiwanese cultural events held by the Taiwan representative office, Márton said he appreciated learning about the island nation and believes the two can learn a lot from each other.

Contrary to Márton's ideas, however, Hungary has recently focused on building a closer friendship with China.

During Xi's visit, China and Hungary signed 18 agreements that meant Hungary became China's sixth 'all-weather partner' along with Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Venezuela, and Pakistan, Márton said.

As a member of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Hungary's pursuit of relations with China does not represent "the elite club" that his country belongs to, he commented.

Márton also expressed concerns over the Hungarian government's willingness to give up sovereignty when it comes to China and Russia.

He said it was "absurd" that when Xi visited on May 9, which happens to be Europe Day, there was no outward celebration of the continent or the European Union. Instead, everything was covered in Chinese flags.

His colleagues were even approached by Chinese "volunteers" asking them about the EU flags they were waving, while Hungarian police looked on, Márton recalled.

This prompted security concerns, particularly given China had offered to back Hungary in national security matters in February this year.

There had been reports of Chinese police, as well as Chinese People's Liberation Army members potentially being sent to the country, Márton said.

Hungary's NATO membership could be jeopardized if the bloc became overwhelmingly concerned by actions such as these, particularly at a moment when Russia is attacking Ukraine, he said.

Although strategic and economic interests are important, issues like human decency and freedom of speech should not be forgotten, Márton said.

The Hungarian government may refuse to listen to opposing voices, but Márton said he believes many Hungarians are unhappy about the government's close alignment with the Chinese Communist Party.

He suggested that Taiwan try to heighten its visibility in Hungary by emphasizing the everyday contributions of Taiwan, such as the production of electronic devices, to garner more support among common Hungarians.

Taiwan's firms are also known for treating their workers much better than their Chinese counterparts in Europe, he noted.

Hungarian Member of Parliament Tompos Márton is seen in this screenshot captured during an interview with CNA.
Hungarian Member of Parliament Tompos Márton is seen in this screenshot captured during an interview with CNA.

Being a vocal advocate for Taiwan has also landed him being frequently mentioned in the Chinese embassy's Facebook posts as "challenging the good relationship between the two countries and spreading lies," Márton told CNA.

He was not bothered.

"I'm happy to go to Taiwan if I can't go to China," he said while revealing that he has already been invited to visit Taiwan and hopes the visit can take place this year.

(By Novia Huang and Wu Kuan-hsien)

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