HUNGARY-BUDAPEST-XI JINPING-ORBAN-PRESS

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping urged world powers to facilitate direct dialogue and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine during a meeting with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Monday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Orbán’s visit to China came as a surprise, following similar trips to Russia and Ukraine to discuss potential pathways towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine.

Orbán commended China’s “constructive and important initiatives” in pursuit of peace and described Beijing as a stabilizing force amidst global instability, as per CCTV.

Beyond Russia and Ukraine, the cessation of hostilities “depends on the decisions of three world powers: the United States, the European Union, and China,” Orbán stated in a Facebook post featuring a handshake with Xi.

Orbán’s meeting with Xi marks their second encounter in just two months. Orbán had previously hosted Xi in Hungary as part of a tour that also included stops in France and Serbia, the latter of which is neither a member of the European Union nor NATO.

Hungary under Orbán has fostered substantial political and economic ties with China. The European nation hosts several Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturing facilities, and in December, announced that Chinese EV giant BYD will establish its first European EV production plant in southern Hungary.

“Peace mission 3.0” was the caption Orbán used for a photo posted early Monday on the X social media platform, depicting his arrival in Beijing. He was greeted by Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying and other officials.

His previously unannounced visit follows similar trips last week to Moscow and Kyiv, where he proposed that Ukraine consider a ceasefire agreement with Russia.

His visit to Moscow sparked condemnation from Kyiv and European leaders.

“The number of countries capable of engaging with both warring sides is dwindling,” Orbán remarked. “Hungary is gradually becoming the only country in Europe that can communicate with everyone.”

Hungary assumed the rotating presidency of the E.U. at the beginning of July, and Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Orbán’s Moscow visit represented him as a top representative of the European Council. Several top European officials refuted this notion, asserting that Orbán’s mandate extended only to discussions about bilateral relations.

The Hungarian prime minister, widely perceived as having the most amicable relationship with Putin among E.U. leaders, has consistently blocked, delayed, or watered down E.U. efforts to aid Kyiv and impose sanctions on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. He has long advocated for a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine but without outlining the implications for the country’s territorial integrity or future security.

This stance has frustrated Hungary’s E.U. and NATO allies, who have denounced Russia’s actions as a violation of international law and a threat to the security of Eastern European nations.