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Does this scenario sound familiar? An illiberal and undemocratic leader of a country challenges the West. China seizes the opportunity and offers to build the leader a gigantic monument. The recipient government pays a small portion of the total cost up front while a Chinese state-owned bank provides a loan to cover the rest.

The project is then contracted out to a Chinese state-owned construction firm that proceeds to bring in most of the materials and workers from China. The locals will ultimately pay for the huge costs without benefiting from the building. Is this taking place in Africa, where this pattern has played out repeatedly? No, this is taking place in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, which is a member of the European Union.

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