Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping after meeting with Putin

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, after meeting with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow last week, met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, courting another authoritarian partner.

Announcing Orban’s visit to Beijing, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua said: That’s all I said Xi is due to have “in-depth discussions” with him “on issues of mutual interest.” The two leaders last met two months ago, when Xi visited Budapest as part of China’s efforts to restore influence in Europe.

China state television reported that Xi and Orban met at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, but gave no other details.

The meeting offers Mr. Orban and Mr. Xi, who have become outcasts in the European Union on issues such as aid to Ukraine, an opportunity to urge the bloc to distance itself from the U.S. Hungary this month assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, raising Mr. Orban’s profile, even if his influence on European affairs as a whole remains modest.

“China and Hungary have similar philosophies and both value independence and independent action,” Xi reportedly told Orban in May. Official Chinese summary of their meeting.

Western European leaders have long distanced themselves from Orban, who stressed during his visit to Moscow last week that he was not speaking on behalf of the European Union. They are likely to be similarly skeptical of a meeting between Orban and Xi in Beijing, where the two leaders are expected to discuss the war in Ukraine.

Orban’s visit to China comes ahead of a three-day NATO summit in Washington starting on Tuesday, where Biden and other Western leaders are likely to offer more support for Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression but will not offer NATO membership, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seeking.

Orban He talked about his trip to Beijing. Hungary has said it continues its mission for “peace” in Ukraine and has used the word “peace” to describe a settlement built on Ukraine’s capitulation to Russian demands. Putin’s visit last week was the first time that a European Union leader has traveled to Russia for official talks with Putin since the first months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Orban met with Zelenskiy in Kiev before his visit to Moscow in what observers saw as a move by the Hungarian leader to end his European isolation over Ukraine. His visit to Ukraine, Russia and China was not previously announced.

Orban has made broad calls for Moscow and Kiev to agree to a ceasefire and direct negotiations, but has not publicly released any specific proposals for a lasting solution.

Similarly, while Xi has been pushing for a vague framework for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, he has been careful to maintain strong ties with Putin. Chinese troops are due to take part in military exercises in Belarus, Russia’s neighbor and close partner, in mid-July, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry. Announcement date The ministry said the joint training would focus on “counter-terrorism” operations and hostage rescue.

The meeting between Orban and Xi will be a new opportunity to highlight their shared antipathy towards the Western security alliance and its criticism of human rights.

Once a critic of China’s Communist Party, Orban is now a strong ally of China and has often spoken out against European Union criticism of China’s hardline policies in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, the western region where mass detentions of Uighur and other Muslims have taken place.

In May, President Xi Jinping and Mr Orban Officially promoted Elevate China-Hungary relations to an “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership,” a Chinese diplomatic term that suggests deep and enduring ties.

“We see each other as preferred partners for cooperation,” he said. President Xi Jinping wrote at the time: Relations with Hungary.

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