Chinese Loan for Construction of Fudan University in Budapest
Hungary’s government plans to contract a Chinese construction giant to build Shanghai-based Fudan University’s new campus in Budapest, according to official government documents obtained by Direkt36. This will be one of the largest investments into the country’s higher education in recent decades. According to a draft proposal by two ministers, the construction, estimated by the government at EUR 1.5 billion, would utilize largely Chinese building materials, Chinese labor, and would mostly be financed through a Chinese loan, which Hungary would pay for. According to these documents, the Chinese contractor does not even have to fear that another bidder would beat them in open competition. Documents state that “the construction can only be carried out as a Chinese only project” and, through legislative instruments, “it is necessary to reach the point where the investment process can no longer be stopped”.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the company eyeing the construction contract, has been suspected of corruption and espionage in many parts of the world in recent years. In addition, according to government estimates, the new campus of Fudan University would cost more than what the state spent on operating Hungary’s entire higher education system in 2019. Fudan’s buildings would also overtake space that was designated to the Budapest Student City Development project, which was meant to provide modern dormitory and community spaces for many thousands of Hungarian students.
Fudan University in Shanghai is a top higher education institution in China and it is world-class in international relations studies. With the help of the Hungarian National Bank, the university began to expand in Hungary, initially in cooperation with Corvinus University. Levente Horváth, the central bank’s chief adviser on China and a Fudan alumnus himself, announced last year that Fudan would open its first European campus in Budapest in 2024 with five to six thousand students and five hundred professors.