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Hungary speeds up visa process

Wang Qingyun and Su Zhou
Updated: Dec 1,2016 9:23 AM     China Daily

Foreign Minister Wang Yi (second from right) gestures to his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in the first meeting of the two countries’ work group on the Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing on Nov 30. [Photo by Wang Zhuangfei/China Daily]

Hungary has decided to speed up the visa procedure for Chinese travelers to attract more investment and tourists from the world’s second-largest economy.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during a joint news conference with his visiting Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in Beijing on Nov 30, announced that Chinese business travelers will be able to get a two-year, multiple-entry visa within 24 hours after applying.

Chinese tourists will be able to get a visa within 72 hours, Wang added.

China and Hungary were holding the first meeting of the bilateral work group on the Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing. Infrastructure interconnectivity, trade and financing were among the key topics.

China has invested more than $3.1 billion in Hungary, making it the top destination in Central and Eastern Europe for Chinese investment.

The two countries have also stepped up cooperation in tourism, with a direct flight from Beijing to Budapest opening in May last year, and China set up a tourism office in Budapest in March to boost such cooperation.

In June last year, Hungary signed a memorandum of understanding with China on working together to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the first European country to sign such a cooperation agreement with China.

Wang said he hopes the bilateral work group will be an example for cooperation between China and other countries to promote the Belt and Road Initiative.

Szijjarto said his country looks forward to leading Central and Eastern Europe in carrying out cooperation with China, adding that Europe needs to strengthen cooperation with China to deal with current challenges.

He also said Hungary will maintain its commitment to becoming China’s friendliest and most trusted partner in Europe, and will continue to firmly support China on issues of major concern.

Zhao Junjie, a researcher on European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Hungary needs investment and markets for its economic restructuring, and China is an important partner in this regard.

An important example of bilateral cooperation is the construction of a rail line that is more than 300 kilometers long and connects Budapest and the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

Wang Yiwei, an expert on European studies at Renmin University of China, said the railway will help Hungary to overcome the disadvantages of being a landlocked country and to seize the opportunity to improve interconnectivity between China and Europe.