China on Monday opposed what it called “politicization of people-to-people contacts” after people in Hungary protested the establishment of a Chinese university's campus in the country's capital Budapest.
“Transnational joint education programs, a common model of international educational cooperation nowadays, serves as an important platform to promote mutual understanding,” Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a news conference in Beijing.
“It is in keeping with the trend of the times and the interests of all,” he added.
Tens of hundreds of people held demonstrations in Budapest last weekend against the opening of a satellite campus of Shanghai-based Fudan University in the city.
Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, has backed the opening of the university campus.
Protesters are wary of the university’s costs and its alleged links with the China’s ruling Communist Party.
“We hope relevant individuals in Hungary will remain objective and rational, follow the science, and avoid politicizing or stigmatizing normal cultural and people-to-people exchanges with China to uphold overall friendly bilateral relations,” Wang emphasized, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.
Founded in 1905, Fudan University had signed a memorandum with Hungary's Ministry for Innovation and Technology on setting up the new campus in Budapest in December 2019 and the first phase of the project is expected to start operating in 2024.
When completed, it would be the first Chinese university in Europe.
The satellite campus is open for admissions to students from across the world and the graduates will be awarded a Hungarian degree, a Chinese degree or a Chinese-Hungarian dual degree./aa