By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 3: The mayor of Budapest announced on Wednesday that he will rename streets in the Hungarian capital near a proposed campus for Chinese university to highlight rights abuses by the Beijing administration. One street will be named after the Dalai Lama, and two other will be called “Uyghur Martyrs’ Road” and “Free Hong Kong Road” respectively. A fourth street will be named after a Chinese bishop who was arrested in China.
The renamed streets will surround China’s Fudan University, a campus offering masters programs for 6000 students with over 500 faculty members. “This Fudan project would put in doubt many of the values that Hungary committed itself to 30 years ago,” said Mayor Gergely Karacsony, a liberal opposition leader who plans to overthrow Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban. The current Prime Minister has been criticized for warming up to ‘illiberal’ governments in China and Russia, while alienating European allies for allegedly curbing democratic practices in the country.
The opposition leader told reporters that the Chinese university campus would cost Hungarian taxpayers nearly $2 billion, which also went against an earlier deal with the government that promised to create facilities for Hungarian students in the district. The Deputy Minister for Innovation and Technology Tamas Schanda responded last week, “The presence of Fudan University means that it will be possible to learn from the best in the world.”
The government has defended the project but an opinion poll by think tank Republikon Institute published on Tuesday showed that 66% Hungarians opposed the idea of the campus whereas only 27% support the move. PM Orban has been criticized for the Budapest-Belgrade railway deal with a $2.7 billion Chinese loan, and for his quick approval of a Chinese-manufactured Covid-19 vaccine which is yet to be approved in the European Union.
This move to rename streets to call out Chinese atrocities in Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong follows suit to the recent proposal for road names by Tower Hamlets Council near potential Chinese embassy in London. Tibet Hill, Uyghur Court, Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong Road and Hong Kong Square were the proposed road names as a token of “solidarity with historic symbols or place names of Chinese significance” and to call out rights violations in China.