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Leuthard receives high-ranking Chinese visit

Swiss President Doris Leuthard has met Wu Bangguo, China’s chief legislator, in Zurich for discussions as the two countries mark 60 years of diplomatic relations.

This content was published on July 18, 2010 - 12:35

The courtesy visit by the Chairman of the National People’s Congress comes in a year that has seen numerous high-level exchanges between the two nations as well as a disagreement over the fate of two ethnic Uighurs.

At the end of January the Chinese Vice Prime Minister Li Keqiang came to Switzerland. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey made a reciprocal visit at the end of June, including to the Swiss exhibits at the Shanghai World Expo, and Leuthard will also travel to China with a high-ranking business delegation in August.

A joint feasibility study is currently under way to examine whether negotiations should be launched on a free trade agreement between Switzerland and China.

China has been Switzerland's most important trade partner in Asia since 2002 and is already the country’s third largest supplier of goods after the European Union and the United States, and the fourth largest market for Swiss products.

The case of the Uighurs who were released by the US from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp caused some disagreement. Switzerland accepted the two men, who are brothers, earlier this year on humanitarian grounds.

China was opposed to the Swiss move, claiming that the two Uighurs were terrorists, undermining Chinese rule in their province.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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