chinese in hungary

Chinese in Hungary



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goods ship (2) shopping mall
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own shift (2) retail/retailer
style entirely cuckoo clock
devote made in it’s time to go
cope dissent around the corner
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avoid bilingual subject (3)
clever election disagreement
attend potential challenge (2)
fund profit (2) establishment
retain strategy controversial
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fellow strategy try/tried/tried
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import wedding restriction
based concern curriculum
vote explain magnet (2)
anti- count (3) bride/bridal
prevail stick (2) order form
in fact send off take it seriously
gown discipline on her way






You could be fooled into thinking you’re in China when you see the goods in this shopping mall — but this is in fact Budapest.

This center with hundreds of small Chinese stores is the biggest of its kind in the whole of Europe.

And it’s based here in this high-rise district of the Hungarian capital.

Luzhen Mai owns a shop in Budapest’s Asia Center. She’s a single mother with two daughters, and is about to start a sixteen-hour shift.

Her youngest child, Zhang Zifang, goes to a Hungarian school.

Luzhen Mai, Retailer: “She started this year. Her Hungarian is good enough now, but most importantly, her Chinese is good enough now.”

Good enough that she can now devote herself entirely to learning Hungarian.

The German-style cuckoo clock made in China tells them it’s time to go.

Mai’s older daughter, Zhang Ziyang, is having more difficulties coping with the two languages. Like most other Chinese in Budapest, the eleven-year old attends a Hungarian-Chinese school, which is just around the corner.

More than twelve-thousand (12,000) Chinese migrants live in Hungary. That’s four thousand more than just a decade ago.

This school was set up in 2004. Discipline here is strict.

“Stand up” are the first words of the Hungarian mathematics teacher.

Student: “Members of the class are all present and correct. There are nineteen pupils and no one is missing.”

This is all conducted in Hungarian. But you could imagine that a similar tone might prevail in Chinese schools.

Hungarian head teacher Zsuzsanna Erdelyi, gets on well with her Chinese counterparts. There are few disagreements, and potential problems are cleverly avoided.

Zsuzsanna Erdelyi, Hungarian-Chinese Bilingual Primary School: “The children are taught according to the Hungarian curriculum, though there are some specific subjects that are taught only in Chinese, such as art.”

In China, dissident artists challenge the political establishment. At this Chinese funded school, Beijing retains control over such controversial subjects.

Budapest is eager to profit from Chinese migrants. In 1991, Hungary abolished visa restrictions for people from China. They were later reintroduced, but conditions for traders were eased.

Attila Kiss, Hungarian Office of Immigration: “Of course, Hungary’s membership in the European Union was like a magnet to the Chinese. They use our country was a springboard to Western Europe. For the Chinese community, we’re a bridge between East and West.”

That’s exactly the way Mai sees things: she wants to make the leap to Western Europe from Budapest.

She’s discussing strategy with a fellow businesswoman and a friend.

Luzhen Mai, Retailer: “I’m trying to build up an internet shop so that I can sell goods in Western Europe too.”

Wedding dresses from China.

Luzhen Mai, Retailer: “This one cost over five-hundred euros (€500).”

In European terms, that’s cheap. And that’s what counts here, the price. Tons of goods are imported here from China’s economic powerhouse in Guangdong.

Local Customer, One: “I shop here because it’s so colorful and cheap. I have more money left afterwards.

I don’t care where the shopkeepers come from; I’m most concerned about saving money.”

But not everyone in Hungary thinks the same way: the last elections saw a rise in the anti-immigration vote.

But these two women are not concerned by that. They keep themselves to themselves.

In the evening, Luzhen Mai goes to her second store in the city center. She explains how her bridal gown business works.

She cuts out pictures from fashion magazines, sticks them to an order form, and sends them off to China. The finished product is then shipped to Budapest.

On her way home, she says she’s not too worried if one day the business dries up.

Luzhen Mai, Retailer: “I like Hungary, but I can’t take it seriously.”

Luzhen says she can do business anywhere, and just like back home in China, she prefers to stay out of politics anyway.


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1. When people this shopping mall, they think they are in Hungary. True or false?

2. Luzhen Mai is married with three children. She works an eight-to-five job as an employee. Is this right or wrong?

3. Do her two daughters attend the same school? What is the difference between them? What is the Hungarian-Chinese school like? Describe the Hungarian-Chinese school.

4. Is the Chinese population in Hungary small, medium-sized or large? How was the Chinese community established?

5. The ultimately goal for all the Chinese is to settle in Hungary permanently. Is this correct or incorrect?

6. What does Ms. Mai sell? What are her business operations and strategies?

7. Do Hungarians have positive, negative or mixed feelings about the Chinese immigrants?
A. Are there Chinese and other ethnic minorities in your city? How did they come to your city?

B. What sorts of jobs do they do? Do they own operate businesses?

C. Is there divided opinion among locals about immigrants? Is immigration a controversial issue?

D. I would like to migrate to another place. Yes or no? Would your friends like to emigrate?

E. What will happen in the future?

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