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China and Hungary nurture a deepening technological partnership


China and Hungary nurture a deepening technological partnership

In the dynamic global landscape of the automotive and technology industries, the partnership between China and Hungary has become increasingly robust, and this evolving alliance is illustrated by recent strategic initiatives in the automotive sector.

In January this year, Chinese automaker BYD officially signed a land pre-purchase agreement with the government of the Hungarian city of Szekszard, marking a significant step in its localization efforts in Europe. The following month, the Chinese automaker delivered its first batch of ATTO 3 electric cars in Hungary, broadening its market access in the Central and Eastern European market.

Located in the heart of Europe, Hungary has a long-standing history of automotive development, supported by well-developed infrastructure and a mature industrial base. In 2016, the Hungarian government launched an electric vehicle development plan aimed at increasing electric vehicle production.

"The electric vehicle industry in Hungary has a solid foundation," said Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Gong Tao. "Complementing this, China possesses advanced technology, a vast market, and a mature industrial chain in the global new energy industry."

Since entering Hungary's passenger car market in October 2023, BYD has swiftly developed its presence in the region. By December, the company announced plans to build its first European EV factory near Szeged, southern Hungary. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto described the initiative as "one of the largest investments in Hungarian economic history," expected to fuel the country's long-term economic prosperity.

"BYD's new energy vehicle production facility in Szeged marks a significant milestone in China-Hungary collaboration on green development and the digital economy," said Gong. "It is anticipated to generate thousands of local jobs, boost Hungary's stature as a new energy vehicle hub in Central and Eastern Europe, and bolster the country's push towards energy transition and carbon neutrality."

BYD previously established its presence in Hungary with a bus manufacturing plant in Komarom, announced in 2016 as the first European electric vehicle factory by a Chinese new energy company. The facility was completed and began production the following year.

A BYD electric bus factory is seen in the northern Hungarian city of Komarom, April 4, 2017. /Xinhua
A BYD electric bus factory is seen in the northern Hungarian city of Komarom, April 4, 2017. /Xinhua

A BYD electric bus factory is seen in the northern Hungarian city of Komarom, April 4, 2017. /Xinhua

Deepening ties through technology transfer

Hungary is a global innovation leader, with a wealth of patents and technologies, and was the first European country to embrace the Belt and Road Initiative. Since the establishment of a Hungarian consulate general in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality in 2010, the two countries have fostered robust cooperation, particularly in the automotive sector.

In 2015, Chongqing, a western inland city with a modest scientific and technological base, actively pursued international collaboration. The Chongqing Hi-tech Incubation Center, facilitated by the Hungarian consulate general, fostered technological partnerships and formed alliances with Hungarian firms.

As exchanges and cooperation between the two countries deepened, the Chinese-Hungarian Technology Transfer Center was established in Chongqing in 2016. A year later, a corresponding office was set up in Hungarian capital Budapest, enhancing the collaborative framework.

Operating on a government-established platform with expert support, the center plays a vital role in fostering the exchange and partnership of scientific talent, innovative technologies and industrial capital. Its Chongqing and Budapest offices support the transfer and commercialization of technological breakthroughs among companies. In 2021, it was listed as a key China-Hungary priority cooperation project under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The center not only fostered an intergovernmental partnership for innovation but also built a platform for non-governmental scientific cooperation. To date, it has organized 14 major project matchmaking events, enabled the signing of 23 project agreements and supervised 11 cooperation projects, including the Caiyun Lake sewage treatment facility.

An aerial view of Caiyun Lake sewage treatment plant in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, June 17, 2024. /VCG
An aerial view of Caiyun Lake sewage treatment plant in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, June 17, 2024. /VCG

An aerial view of Caiyun Lake sewage treatment plant in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, June 17, 2024. /VCG

Located in Chongqing, the sewage treatment plant now has 47 species of aquatic plants arranged in regular patterns, transforming the area into a garden-like setting. Just 20 years ago, it was merely a foul-smelling ditch known locally for its unpleasant odor.

The sewage treatment plant employs Hungary's food chain reactor (FCR) technology, which utilizes microorganisms and aquatic plants to degrade sewage pollutants. This substantially reduces emissions and mitigates environmental strain on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

"The plant is a model program of China-Hungary science and technology cooperation," said Mei Huiling, director of the Chinese Hungarian Technology Transfer Center in Chongqing, noting that the two countries have launched various science and technology cooperation programs in key areas, such as low-carbon development, novel materials and medicine.

The Chinese-Hungarian Technology Transfer Center has broadened its network by entering into joint construction agreements with various scientific and technological service institutions nationwide, encompassing Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu, Guizhou, Shandong and Zhejiang provinces.

"Hungary has a robust industrial base and impressive research and development and production capabilities in automobiles, computers, communication equipment, instruments, chemicals and medicine," noted Mei.

Following the joint construction agreement, several Sino-Hungarian innovation project promotion and matchmaking events have been co-hosted in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and other Chinese provinces, further enhancing scientific and technological collaboration between China's southwest and Hungary, Mei said.

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