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Swiss China deportation deal ‘not secret’ 

Swiss and Chinese flags
Switzerland and China maintain good relations, notably in the economic sphere. Keystone / Alessandro Della Bella

A 2015 Swiss deal with Chinese agents is not a secret document and is no longer in force, according to the Swiss authorities. 

The deal allows officials from Beijing to enter Switzerland and question Chinese citizens residing here illegally.  

Responding to what it called “numerous misleading statements”, the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said on ThursdayExternal link that the agreement was listed in the foreign ministry’s collection of international agreements and “can be obtained on request at any time. It is in no way a secret document”. SEM says the agreement expired on December 7 this year and that “as there is no particular urgency to renew the agreement, no such talks have taken place to date”. 

“Since being signed at Switzerland’s behest in December 2015, it has only been applied on one occasion, when two Chinese officials stayed in Switzerland for several days to interview a total of 13 people,” the press release stresses.  

It reiterates that those interviewed “are individuals who do not face persecution on return to their country of origin”, such as Tibetans and Uighurs. “Persons who can credibly demonstrate that they are subject to political persecution are granted protection by Switzerland”. 

‘60 or so’ other agreements 

SEM stresses that such agreements “have been conducted for many years in Switzerland and in other European countries” and that Switzerland has such deals with countries other than China. 

“Like the other 60 or so agreements concluded by Switzerland in this area, the agreement is in line with the legal mandate which requires SEM, together with the cantons, to ensure that people who have to leave Switzerland can actually be removed. Without identification by the staff of the Chinese authorities, the removal cannot be carried out,” says the press release. 

The NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported in August that talks with the Chinese were ongoing to renew the agreement, which was never officially published. On December 9, Britain’s Guardian newspaper ran an articleExternal link suggesting that the deal was not only secret but “gave Chinese spies free rein in Switzerland”. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

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