Budapest rejects Chinese university building site plans

“We particularly do not support [the investment] based on what we learned today, and we will seize all possible legal and political means to ensure that the Student City is built and Fudan is not,” Karácsony told reporters. [EPA-EFE/Zoltan Balogh]

Budapest’s green mayor Gergely Karácsony, who recently announced his run for the prime ministerial post in the opposition primaries, has rejected the construction of the Fudan university on its planned site after talks with Innovation and Technology Minister László Palkovics on Monday.

“We particularly do not support [the investment] based on what we learned today, and we will seize all possible legal and political means to ensure that the Student City is built and Fudan is not,” Karácsony told reporters after the meeting together with Krisztina Baranyi, head of the capital’s Ferencváros district where the investment is planned.

The row between the capital’s leadership and the government has been going on for more than a month after an investigation by Direkt36 revealed that Hungary’s executive plans to contract a Chinese company to build Shanghai-based Fudan University’s new campus in Budapest.

The Chinese investment also put into question the fate of the Student City initially planned in the same spot, which included more than 8,000 dormitory places. The construction of the Student City was one of the conditions for Budapest and its opposition-run districts to support the organisation of the 2023 World Athletics Championships in the capital and the construction of the Ferencváros Athletic Stadium.

Karácsony said the Student City would be pushed out by Fudan and be built on a fraction of the initially planned space.

The mayor added that he trusted in the promise of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and in his words of “granite strength” that what the leadership of Budapest did not support would not be built.

Baranyi also announced plans for an online poll with the capital’s inhabitants on whether they want Fudan University to replace the Student City in June, preceded by forums and discussions.

The results of one survey have previously shown the majority of Budapest residents do not think that the Fudan campus should be built on the site of the Student City.

The Fudan University campus would be built by a pre-approved Chinese construction firm, with Chinese workers and a €1.25 billion (HUF 450 billion) Chinese loan.

The Hungarian government had already pledged about €2.3 million for supporting real estate purchases by the Fudan University. (Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com with Telex)

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