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Justice minister in China for security talks

Security will be tight at the National Stadium of China for next year's Olympic Games

(Keystone)

Switzerland and China are to strengthen cooperation in the fight against organised crime, especially in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

During an official four-day visit to China, Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher also underlined the importance of respecting the issue of intellectual property rights.

Blocher met Zhou Yongkang, the former minister for public security who recently joined the party's top body, the Politburo Standing Committee, to discuss the importance of sharing information in the fight against organised crime, the Swiss justice ministry said in a statement on Friday.

In terms of anti-terrorism measures, collaboration between the two sides should be stepped up before the start of the summer Games, it added.

The justice minister also met the deputy public security minister, Meng Hongwei, to share information on security measures Switzerland is putting in place for the 2008 European football championships, which are being held jointly with Austria.

Human rights

In the run-up to next year's Olympic Games, Amnesty International has brought out two reports on China which highlight the poor working conditions of migrant workers and abuses of human rights.

It has warned that the image of the games will be tarnished unless China acts urgently to stop abuses. In a report, the group accused China's authorities of detaining activists and journalists without trial, in a "clean up" of the capital.

Justice ministry spokesman Livio Zanolari explained that Blocher had also raised the issue of human rights during his official visit.

"The concept of human rights appears when talking justice, security, human trafficking or the fight against terrorism," explained Zanolari. "It heard the expression 'human rights' on a number of occasions."

Intellectual property

During his talks with Tian Lipu, the director of the Chinese Office of Intellectual Property, the Swiss minister welcomed Chinese efforts to adapt its laws concerning intellectual property rights but added that protection was still insufficient.

"This has a negative influence on trade and the availability of companies to invest in China," he declared.

In Beijing Blocher also met the current public security minister, Meng Jianzhu, and the justice minister, Wu Aiying, to discuss visas for Switzerland.

In 2004 Switzerland signed a protocol agreement for a facilitated visa procedure for Chinese tourists visiting Switzerland. The first experiences indicate that this has been successful, the ministry declared.

The Chinese authorities also announced that they are ready to hold further discussions on readmitting illegal Chinese immigrants in Switzerland and on improving identification procedures.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Switzerland was one of the first western states to recognise the People's Republic of China in 1950.

The first Chinese leader to visit Switzerland was Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in 1954.

In 1996, Swiss Economics Minister Jean-Pascal Delamuraz became the first cabinet minister to travel to China for an official visit.

Bilateral relations were temporarily tarnished after the visiting President Jiang Zemin was booed by exiled Tibetans in Bern in 1999.

But ties were patched up a few months later and visits by five different cabinet ministers over the past seven years.

end of infobox

Key facts

China (without Hong Kong) is Switzerland's second strongest trading partner in Asia after Japan.
Swiss exports to China have risen from SFr415 million ($327 million) in 1990 to SFr3.5 billion (2005).
Chinese exports to Switzerland have risen from SFr418 million (1990) to SFr3.4 billion (2005).
Swiss direct investment in China (2005): SFr5 billion.
There are around 300 Swiss companies and 2,500 Swiss individuals in China.

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