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Nation aiming to deepen Swiss ties

(China Daily)

08:53, May 24, 2013

China attaches great importance to developing its relations with Switzerland and wants to deepen them, according to the Chinese ambassador to Switzerland.

"Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Switzerland will boost bilateral friendship, increase political mutual trust, broaden cooperation and deepen mutual understanding," Xu Jinghu told China Daily.

Li arrived in Switzerland on Thursday night, beginning his first European trip as premier.

Switzerland and China have a long-standing friendship, with Switzerland in 1950 being one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China.

These relations have developed at a brisk pace in recent years, Xu said. "The two countries have maintained good communication and coordination in global challenges and on major international and regional issues.

"The economies of Switzerland and China are highly complementary," she said, adding that they are important trade partners.

In 2012, trade between the two nations reached $26.3 billion, according to official Chinese statistics.

Switzerland was one of the first countries to recognize China's market economy status and is expected to be among the first European countries to sign a free trade agreement with China.

"The importance of the FTA between China and Switzerland will be beyond the bilateral ties," Xu said, adding that it will promote Sino-European economic and trade cooperation and the world trade environment.

Many well-known Swiss companies have set up their production and research and development centers in China, Xu said, adding that Chinese companies also invest in Switzerland, especially in the energy and telecom sectors.

"There will be more opportunities for cooperation between China and Switzerland in the future," the ambassador said.

She also stressed that there have been notable achievements in culture and education, science and tourism cooperation with Switzerland.

China's Terracotta Warriors are on show at the Bern Historical Museum in the Swiss capital and have attracted many Swiss visitors, she said.

The first Confucius Institute in Switzerland was founded in Geneva in 2011, and a new Confucius Institute at the University of Basel is ready to open.

Half a million Chinese tourists traveled to Switzerland in 2012, while nearly 80,000 Swiss visited China, Xu added.

"Premier Li's visit to Switzerland will inject new vitality for bilateral cooperation in all kinds of fields and bring a new vision," Xu said.

Xiao Zhen, general manager of Swiss Center Shanghai, a nonprofit, Sino-Swiss public-private partnership, told China Daily exchanges between the two countries in the economic, cultural and education sectors have been extensive and are continually progressing.

Swiss companies have been successfully investing in China, and confidence for the future remains very high, he said.

Xiao said Switzerland has extensive knowledge and experience to offer, for example in sustainable development, green technology, innovation and vocational training. "All of these are of high importance for China's future development," he said.

"With the FTA agreement to be concluded soon, Li's visit to Switzerland signifies China's recognition of the importance of Switzerland despite its small size, and shows strong commitment to further develop win-win bilateral relations," Xiao added.

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