Budapest’s 9th district has proposed to name streets around the site of a new campus for China’s Fudan University after “people who have suffered damages from the Chinese state”, District Mayor Krisztina Baranyi and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony told a press conference.
The new names, Uyghur Martyrs’ Road, Free Hong Kong Road, Dalai Lama Road and Bishop Xie Shiguang Road are to receive approval by the city in the next few days. At the press conference, Karácsony said that the Fudan project would “undermine” plans to build student accommodation in the area, and accused the government of trying to back out of an earlier agreement over those plans. “The Fudan project questions a number of values Hungary has been committed to over the past 30 years,” the mayor said and asked “why would Hungarian taxpayers finance construction of a Chinese private university?” Karácsony said name-giving was a political tool which also served the ideals of freedom and solidarity. He said he believed that “the power of the people is stronger than the people of power”, and called for public protest against the “detrimental” Fudan project. Karácsony also said, however, that both Budapest and the country needed a “clear and pragmatic” cooperation with China, adding that Budapest was not planning to terminate its partnerships with Chinese cities. “This cooperation is based on the understanding that we have ideological differences,” he said.
Ruling Fidesz in response called on Karácsony and Baranyi to “adhere to the law rather than holding political shows”. The district mayor has no right to rename public spaces, the Fidesz group of the Assembly said in a statement. Although Karácsony has jurisdiction over the most urgent matters during the coronavirus-related state of emergency, renaming streets still falls under the purview of the Budapest Assembly, they said.