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China lashes out at Swiss foreign policy strategy

Sitting in front of a video call backdrop of the Great Wall of China, Ambassador Wang was answering reporters' questions which had to be submitted last week. Chinese embassy

China’s ambassador to Switzerland has strongly rejected Swiss criticism of the human rights situation in the Asian country.

This content was published on March 22, 2021 - 15:20
swissinfo.ch with SRF and Tamedia online sites/ug

Wang Shihting said the Swiss government’s first ever China foreign policy strategy, which was unveiled last week, was sending wrong signals and making false accusations.

“Such statements contradict basic facts and have a negative impact on the healthy development of relations between China and Switzerland,” Wang said through an official interpreter on Monday.

“China strongly protests against it,” he said.

The news conference, which was broadcast live over the internet, came in response to the Swiss government’s foreign policy paper on China, published last Friday.

Wang called on Switzerland to “do more to promote friendship” and to refrain from “interference in China’s internal affairs”.

He said Switzerland had repeatedly supported criticism against China by the United Nations and the UN Human Rights Council. This was not helpful for dialogue which needed mutual respect, he added.

Wang said the Chinese people were living in “full democracy and freedom” and that reports of internment camps for members of the Muslim minority of Uyghurs were part of a propaganda campaign by the West, notably the United States.

Trade

Asked about a possible reform of a 2014 free trade agreement between Beijing and Switzerland, Wang said representatives from both sides remained in contact to discuss a possible upgrade to include the financial services sectors.

In its new strategy paper, the Swiss government criticised China’s growing unwillingness to hold a human rights dialogue and the worsening human rights situation in the country.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told a news conference last week: "Politically, China remains de facto a one-party state with increasingly authoritarian tendencies and the suppression of dissidents and minorities.”

The Swiss government is considering whether to join sanctions imposed by the European Union against China. But non-EU member Switzerland has no obligations towards Brussels, the economics ministry told the Swiss news agency, Keystone-SDA.

China is Switzerland’s third largest trading partner. Switzerland was one of the first western countries to recognise Communist China in 1950.

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