Human rights and trade dominate Swiss-Chinese talk

A rally showing support for Uighurs and their fight for human rights in Hong Kong Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Switzerland is worried about human rights violations in China. State Secretary Krystyna Marty broached this topic on Monday during a remote political dialogue with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

This content was published on November 9, 2020 - 18:49
Keystone/SDA, sm

In a statementExternal link following the video conference, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) reiterated Switzerland’s concern about the lack of respect for human rights in China, “particularly with regard to the treatment of Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic and religious minorities”. Monday’s discussion also included the new National Security Act in Hong Kong and the resulting restrictions on freedom of expression.

In an interview published in early August by Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis had already stated that “human rights violations are on the increase” in China. He added that if China abandoned the principle of “one country, two systems” with Hong Kong, this would affect many Swiss companies that have invested there.

Key trading partner

During the video conference, the two officials also acknowledged the mutual support and solidarity shown by the two countries in the fight against Covid-19, as well as a new test designed for people travelling to China.

Both countries have stated that they hope to limit any negative effects on the business activities of Swiss companies in China. Despite a 17% drop in trade volume, Beijing remains Switzerland’s third most important trading partner after the EU and the USA.

“Switzerland welcomes China’s efforts to open its market to world trade and is closely following political and economic developments,” noted the FDFA. Marty and Qin also discussed the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, as well as Switzerland’s willingness to lend its winter sports expertise as China prepares to host this major event.

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