Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced on Friday that China plans to step up its anti-corruption cooperation with Switzerland. Yi thanked Switzerland for not providing a haven for Chinese criminals.
"We have decided to strengthen our cooperation in terms of repatriating corrupt individuals and funds,” Yi told reporters at a press conference in Beijing, accompanied by his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter, who is visiting.
In 2014, the Chinese authorities launched a huge offensive against corruption – “Operation Fox Hunt” - to track down and bring home fugitives suspected of financial crime. The anti-graft campaign is mainly aimed at corruption in the ruling Communist party.
China reportedly handed lists of targets to countries including the United States, Australia, France, Canada and the United Kingdom. The New York Times last year reported anger in Washington over the “strong-arm tactics” – including intimidation and threats – allegedly being used by Chinese agents to bring fugitives home.
As part of agreement with Switzerland, Yi said both countries were pushing to conclude a mutual criminal justice agreement.
At the press conference, Burkhalter called for efforts to step up the fight against “cybercrime” to combat industrial spying.
“China has recently finalized agreements with the United States and Britain…we are also interested in concluding such an accord with China,” he declared.
The Swiss foreign minister also welcomed “good discussions last year” with China on human rights issues. He called for respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism, in particular insisting that lawyers be allowed to carry out their work without meddling.
China on Thursday criticised the United States for calling for the release of several detained human rights lawyers, asking it to refrain from interference. China has arrested nine lawyers, most of them on subversion charges, in recent days, rights group Chinese Human Rights Defenders says.
Both ministers also expressed concern over North Korea’s nuclear programme and called for a negotiated UN-led political solution to the Syria crisis.
During their talks, the two ministers ratified an agreement extending the number of Chinese cities which are authorized to issue tourist visas to Switzerland.
It is hoped this move will help continue to develop the number of Chinese visitors. Last year over Chinese tourists to Switzerland accounted for a total of one million overnight stays in the alpine country.
China recently invited Switzerland to participate in the Group of Twenty (G20) financial meetings. The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
The two countries will continue bilateral talks next week at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, where Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann will meet the Chinese vice president Li Yuanchao.
swissinfo.ch and agencies