NewsOrban welcomes Chinese Police in Hungary, stirring surveillance concerns

Orban welcomes Chinese Police in Hungary, stirring surveillance concerns

More and more tourists from China are coming to visit Hungary.
More and more tourists from China are coming to visit Hungary.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

5:46 AM EDT, May 12, 2024

Viktor Orban is keen on having Chinese police officers come to Hungary, hoping they'll aid Asian tourists expected in growing numbers. Yet, some journalists and politicians fear this could let Beijing monitor its citizens in Europe.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Budapest. Prior to the visit, Orban mentioned the surge of tourists from China necessitates the presence of Chinese police officers. "Many tourists bring not only profits but numerous challenges," he remarked.

The surge in tourists from China to Hungary follows the establishment of flight routes from Budapest to seven Chinese cities. Starting in June, up to 19 flights will connect Hungary and China.

They want Chinese police officers in Hungary

The proposal to deploy police officers is plausible. Patrols by Chinese officers in Hungary are permissible under a Hungary-China agreement signed in mid-February, as announced by the Hungarian Ministry of Interior in early March. A similar pact was previously agreed upon with Serbia.

Such agreements are common in Europe. "Hungarian officers often help their Croatian counterparts along the Croatian coast during peak tourist season, and Austrian police have patrolled with Hungarian officers on Lake Balaton," the ministry highlights. Moreover, Polish officers serve in countries like Croatia or Bulgaria during the tourist season.

Some claim that police officers from China are to control citizens.
Some claim that police officers from China are to control citizens.© Adobe Stock

Do they want to control their citizens?

While the official stance is that this move aims to patrol areas frequented by Chinese tourists in Hungary, media speculate it might allow the Chinese government to monitor its citizens in Europe.

"Budapest has procured security tools, including surveillance cameras, from Chinese firms. Hungary's reliance on Huawei, deemed a security risk in the West, is also noteworthy," German newspaper "Die Welt" reported in March.
US Ambassador in Budapest, David Pressman, recently voiced concerns about the implications of Orban's tight-knit relationship with Beijing for Hungary's and its allies' security.

The Chinese leader's visit, which concluded on Friday, May 10th, ended with signing 18 agreements, primarily focused on joint infrastructure ventures. Before Hungary, Xi visited France and Serbia.

Bertalan Havasi, head of Orban's press office, reminded that in 2009, Orban, then in the opposition, and Xi, the then Vice President of China, concurred on fortifying Hungarian-Chinese relations.
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