Briefing notes

China now has statue of Sándor Petőfi

Hungary aims to further awareness of Hungarian culture as well as solidify its commitment to the “One Belt One Road” initiative.

The statue was unveiled in Chongqing, West China, as a gift from Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the municipality of Yuyung District on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Hungarian-Chinese diplomatic relations. Zsigmond Szórádi’s work is titled “Flower of the Kokárda” and portrays the torsos of both Petőfi and his wife, Júlia Szendrey, in an embrace. Both Géza Szőcs, Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister, and Chang Ling, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Political Consultative Assembly of China, gave speeches at the ceremony. 

Szőcs also “unveiled” Hungary’s strategy to use such foreign policy initiatives to help raise awareness of Hungary in western China, as up until now, only the Beijing and the coastal cities have had a Hungarian political, economic and cultural presence. Additionally, Hungarian universities have been established in the universities of three central and western Chinese cities – Chongqing, Chengdu and Xian. Direct flights to Chongqing from Budapest will start soon as well. 

Szőcs emphasized that the statue is a symbol of Hungarian culture, but it is also a statement by the Hungarian government in regard to its “opening up” to the East and an advertisement for its participation in the “One Belt One Road” initiative.

All Chinese schoolchildren learn Petőfi’s poem “Liberty and Love,” so Szórádi’s piece portrays a Hungarian who everybody will know. Szőcs stated that this “statue is for lovers too,” and there is thus also a padlock (love lock) wall for couples to symbolically display their unbreakable love.

In his speech, Szőcs listed a series of events meant to further Hungarian awareness in the area. The West China Hungarian Cultural Festival will be held for the eight time. The Budapest Autumn program hosted the Hungarian-Chinese Canoeing Championship and the Hungarian Literary Night. And now, there will also be a Hungarian Film Week.

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