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Hungarian PM Viktor Orban Challenges Western Liberals, but Stays Close to China

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: August 11, 2021
Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, arrives for a Heads of State meeting of the Visegrad group at the International Congress Center on June 30, 2021 in Katowice, Poland. Orban voiced his disdain for western liberal governance in an interview with Tucker Carlson, but maintains close ties to the Chinese Communist Party nonetheless.
Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, arrives for a Heads of State meeting of the Visegrad group at the International Congress Center on June 30, 2021 in Katowice, Poland. Orban voiced his disdain for western liberal governance in an interview with Tucker Carlson, but maintains close ties to the Chinese Communist Party nonetheless. (Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images)

Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, sat down for an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson on Aug. 5 where the Hungarian leader was provided a platform to voice his administration’s approach to governance to an English-speaking audience, one Orban says is different from the leftist embodiment found in Europe and the United States.

Carlson opened the segment on a hot footed monologue: “Of the nearly 200 different countries on the face of the Earth, precisely one of them has an elected leader that publicly identifies as a western-style conservative,” referring to Orban by name. He posited, “By rejecting the tenets of neoliberalism” Orban had “personally offended” and “enraged” the Washington Democrats who have ruled the U.S. since Jan. 20 of this year. 

“[Orban] thinks families are more important than banks, he believes countries need borders. For saying these things out loud, Orban has been vilified.”

“Official Washington despises Viktor Orban so thoroughly, that many, including neocons in and around the State Department, are backing the open anti-semites running against him in next April’s elections in Hungary,” Carlson said.

The segment opened with the topic of migration, an increasingly divisive and pressing issue facing the U.S. since Biden and his sweeping policy changes came to power. Hungary’s approach lies in sharp contrast to that taken by the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. Rather than permit tens or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of immigrants to enter the country, Orban closed Hungary’s borders and sought to keep its population undiluted, making the Prime Minister something of a pariah in the European Union’s political circle.

Orban, who speaks excellent English with a heavy Hungarian accent, gave his rationale, “That was the only reasonable behavior. If somebody without getting any permission on behalf of the Hungarian state cross your border, you have to defend your country and to say ‘Guys, stop. And if you would like to cross or you would like to come there’s a legal procedure’.”

“You have to defend your people against any danger,” said Orban, leading Carlson to ask a leading question: “And you think you have a right to do that?” Orban’s reply was “Of course. It’s coming from the God, the nature, all arguments with us because this is our country, this is our population, this is our language, so we have to do that.”

On immigration rights, Orban was definitive, “This is not a human right to come here. No way.” 

“Because it is our land. It’s a nation. It’s a community. Families, history, tradition, language.”

Orban said the issue at hand is other European nations have decided to build a “new society,” which he describes as a post-Christian and post-nationalist ideology backed by a firm belief in mixing the original Christian communities in each nation with Muslim migrants. 

He said his peers think “the outcome of this will be good.”

“There is no answer whether it will be good or bad. But I think it’s very risky and the chance that it will be not good, but it will be very bad, is obvious. And each nation has the right to take this risk or to reject this risk. We Hungarians decided not to take that risk to mix up our society. That’s the reason why they attack Hungary so harshly and that’s the reason why my personal reputation is very bad.”

Carlson also asked the Prime Minister why the western democracies challenge him, but not the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Xi Jinping. Orban said the reason is simply because Hungary’s success flies in the face of the globalist model, “It’s a real challenge for the liberal thinkers…What is going on here is building up a society which is very successful, economically, politically, culturally, even in demography we have some success…so what you see here could be described as a success story.” 

“But the fundamentals of this success are totally different than it is wished and run and created by many other western countries.”

“The western liberals cannot accept that inside the western civilization there is a conservative, national alternative which is more successful at everyday life than the liberal ones. That’s the reason why they criticize us. They are fighting for themselves, not against us.”

Orban continued, “But we are an example that somebody or a country which is based on traditional values, on national identity, based on tradition of Christianity could be successful, or sometimes even more successful than a leftist liberal government.”

Hungary’s leader also linked the situation to fallout arising from the years of major influence the totalitarian USSR had over Europe, “What I see in the central European countries, the countries suffered the most because of Soviet occupation and Communist dictatorship…So in these countries, my approach or the Hungarian approach is very popular.”

“On the western society there is a lot of people, millions and millions of people who disagree the direction of the policy taker at this moment, which is against the family, or not respecting the families, which is more based on migration, which is more open society, which is more welfare and so on.”

However, despite both Orban’s conservative and traditional posturing and his history as a young political dissident who opposed the Soviet Union, Orban’s Hungary was the first European signatory to the CCP’s One Belt One Road hegemony and debt trap project in 2015. 

In April of this year, Orban also played the vaccine diplomacy game with Beijing, becoming the first country in the EU to approve the Chinese Sinopharm inactivated virus vaccine. Orban was heavy handed in his approach to vaccine acceptance, keeping his citizens under a military-enforced curfew for more than five months as he linked a loosening of restriction to a percentage of his populace who had accepted an injection. 

In June, Hungarian citizens aggressively protested the installation of a campus of the CCP’s Fudan University in Budapest. In 2017, Hungary’s central bank entered into an agreement to build the campus in a deal that would see Hungary supply the land, buildings, and other facilities to the Party. 

Construction of the campus was expected to cost the country €1.5 billion, financed by a Chinese loan, and would not stimulate the national economy as Chinese labor and material would be imported to facilitate construction.

To protest the event, Budapest’s mayor, Gergely Karacsony, a liberal, renamed four streets surrounding the proposed site to “Free Hong Kong,” “Uyghur Martyrs,” “Bishop Xie Shiguang,” and “Dalai Lama.”

“The signs bear the names of the persons and people who have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party. This is…a stand for solidarity and freedom, which Hungary has been committed to for 30 years,” said Karacsony.