Hungarian government conceals details of Chinese loan backing Budapest-Belgrade rail project
Hungarian Finance Minister Mihály Varga announced in April 2020 that the Chinese government had agreed to provide a loan for Hungary’s portion of the proposed Budapest-Belgrade high-speed rail project, estimated to be at least $2 billion. However, the Hungarian government also classified documents describing the precise contents of the loan agreement as a state secret for a 10-year period. The 20-year loan will be provided by the Export–Import Bank of China, one of the Chinese institutional banks in charge of implementing state policy. The loan should cover roughly 85% of the funding for the rail project, with the Hungarian government funding the remaining 15% and paying annual interest of at least 2.5%. The investment represents a significant portion of the Chinese state’s One Belt, One Road initiative, and may eventually link up with other Chinese projects, such as the refurbished Greek port of Piraeus, that aim to secure greater Chinese economic and geostrategic leverage in EU markets.