This year, Vodafone sold its Hungarian division to local peer 4iG and the Hungarian state for 1.8 billion euros, in what was meant to be a debt-fuelled acquisition. Press reports confirmed that 4iG received a loan of 750 million euros, and it seems many of the lending banks supplying this cash were Chinese.
In 2010, PM Viktor Orbán announced a policy of ‘Eastern Opening’, indicating an overture to attracting Asian economic interest. Since then, many projects have included Chinese money, such as the Budapest-Belgrade railway and a battery factory. There were even plans to build a campus of Shanghai’s Fudan University in Budapest.
But while the Hungarian government continues to seek out ties with China, critics fear this may imply economic and political influence for Beijing – not only in Hungary but also in the European Union.