The planned Swiss-China dialogue on human rights has been delayed by China after Beijing objected to a letter Switzerland co-signed this summer calling for the closure of Uighur camps in Xinjiang, say media reports.
Switzerland was among 22 Western countries at the United Nations to urge China in July to stop holding members of its Muslim population in detention centres, a move which was criticised by China at the time.
Discussions on the human rights talks are still taking place, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) told Keystone-SDA on Friday, in reaction to reports of the postponement that had appeared on Swiss public television RTSexternal link and in the media. It did not give any reasons for the delay, according to RTS.
During a meeting of the Switzerland-China strategic dialogue forum on October 22, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and his counterpart Wang both expressed their interest in having a dialogue.
Human rights dialogue between China and Switzerland has been taking place since 1991. Since then, 16 rounds of discussions have taken place, which means there have been a few years without dialogue, the FDFA said.
According to RTS, China objected to Switzerland’s statement being public; it prefers to discuss sensitive subjects behind closed doors. The topics of the human rights dialogue always remain confidential, the report said.
Switzerland has also made statements on the camps since the summer. At the end of November, the Swiss foreign ministry said China should heed the concerns expressed by various countries and allow United Nations observers “unimpeded access” to inspect the camps.